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This looks big

Written By: - Date published: 4:35 pm, October 29th, 2008 - 46 comments
Categories: john key - Tags: ,

It looks like the Herald has as a scoop on John Key’s possible involvement in the H-fee scandal. According to the article:

John Key faces accusations of misleading the public about his knowledge of one of New Zealand’s most notorious white collar crimes.

The allegations centre around the so-called H-Fee – two payments totalling A$66.5 million to Equiticorp funnelled via sham foreign exchange transactions in 1988 – and an interview Mr Key gave the Herald last year.

There have been rumours around the traps about this for some time but nothing substantial. It’ll be interesting to see what the Herald has got tomorrow, and whether the story stacks up.


46 comments on “This looks big”

  1. Anita 1

    To reiterate what I said about the Tranzrail shares…

    … incomprehensible financial markets … 20 years ago … incomprehensible badness …

    If Labour want this to work they need to make sure they explain it right.

  2. insider 2

    Surely this is the money quote, especially the last sentence.

    “Checks by the Herald of court documents made public by Labour have unravelled several aspects of the version he told, including the fact that he resigned from Elders in June 1988, six months after the first payment. There is no evidence that he was involved in handling the sham transactions.”

    SO the big story for Labour is ambiguity or lies call it what you will around dates 20 years ago, ignoring the fact that they are about something he had absolutely no involvement in.

    Labour should be worried that this is not seen as desperate pantie sniffing by a desperate party. I mean, sending Mike Williams to Sydney to trawl through some musty records and all they could come up with that he quoted some incorrect dates in a media interview (Will JK”s evilness never end?).

    Frankly I think the Williams angle is the far stronger story.

  3. Ianmac 3

    Insider: So if Farrar digs around to get the”dirt” on Peters for thousands of dollars it is a good thing in the name of rightness, but if someone digs for info on possibly illegal millions and leader credibility it is an evil thing. Should your leader be above reproach given that I think the money involved in 1987 came close to bankrupting NZ didn’t it?
    At least John Key is being given the chance to prepare his case.

  4. IrishBill 4

    I believe he flew to Melbourne, not Sydney, insider. I’d recommend you read the story a little more closely before you rush to pass judgment. You may also want to read the related article that indicates he didn’t just quote the wrong date to the media but to the Serious Fraud Office: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10459777

  5. higherstandard 5

    I thought Key gave evidence to the SFO years ago to help them get Elders prosecuted and that the SFO had been pretty categorical that he was in no way involved in anything dodgy ?

    I agree if he’s done anything wrong he should feel the full force of the law come down on him – but can’t help feeling that the timing of this from Labour amounts to a desperate pre-election smear.

    As Tane says it’ll be interesting to see if the story stacks up – generally most of the things that there have been rumours about for years have been a load of old wank.

  6. shonkey 6

    Key really does have a memory problem. I found a 1999 profile of him and his forex career. He was asked:
    What is the most memorable moment of your career in the FX markets ?
    His answer:
    The most memorable moment for me was definitely when the New Zealand dollar entered the forex markets in 1984.

    The dollar floated in 1985, surely something Key would be able to recall, given it was his ‘most memorable moment’.

  7. Dom 7

    Aren’t these the facts?

    The shonky deal was done in 1988.
    Key claims he left in 1987.
    Turns out he left in 1988.

    Key knew of the deal and when it was done – he was so sure he smugly says “Small issue – three months before any of these deals got decided I left Elders”

    Now whether he was involved is another story (on the evidence he wasn’t) but again, on my current reading of the facts, he has lied to make himself look good.

    And AGAIN, his campaign is interupted as he fends of issues of trustworthiness…

  8. Danny 8

    Key stated that he had left when the first payment was made. He had not. That is not an error, that is a lie. The H-Fee was massive, and he was in the game.

    Insider, a little legal tip for you: When a party is shown to have lied about their circumstances around a fraudulent deal (no matter how trivial), you should look/pry further. Their lack of veracity is presumptive evidence of greater involvement or hidden wrongdoing on their part. And you can bet your house there will be more to their involvement than they have let on.

  9. insider 9


    I think you are mixing up JK’s involvement in an instant trade/position when Douglas got sacked rather than this organised fraud.

    With Peters he was shown to have said one thing and done another. Isn’t the real point here that Key had no involvement in the actual fraud (which was investgated and prosecuted by NZ and Aus authorities). I

    The story appears to boil down to “he said he left on x but actually left on z and had nothing to do with illegal y, whcih went on in between and was perpetrated in Australia”. Excuse me if I fail to see the scandal in this.

    I think ANita’s anaylsis is spot on as I found the whole dates issue difficult to negotiate.

  10. Sarah 10

    What has Key reported to have done?

  11. higherstandard 11

    Yep – here’s the sound bite from Sturt at the SFO who investigated Elders/Equiticorp.


    Clearly he must be a National party stooge.

  12. higherstandard 12

    Sarah read the link whether you believe Key was involved or not it gives a brief overview of the fraud that was perpetrated – just reading the name Equiticorp gets my blood boiling – bloody bunch of rogues.

  13. IrishBill 13

    No HS, as I pointed out earlier that article indicates Key told the SFO he left earlier than he did. I’ve never been interviewed by the SFO but I imagine I’d make bloody sure I got all the facts straight if I was.

  14. Scribe 14

    Misleading the public is one thing — politicians do that all the time to varying degrees.

    Misleading legal or government investigations is another thing entirely.

  15. milo 15

    Was John Key involved in the H-fee?
    – No, says the SFO.
    – No, says the trader who did it (who confessed and became a crown witness)
    – No, says the recipient.

    Oh, and who received the H-Fee? Why it was Equiticorp, who donated $250,000 to Labour. Does Labour take dirty money?

    [lprent: Source? Link? How much did they donate to National? Or should I regard this as a troll?]

  16. Daveski 16

    It will indeed be interesting to see what comes out of this.

    I do find it ironic the reaction to this compared to the blanket silence about more of Winston’s lies but that’s the nature of politics.

    Likewise, I find it funny that all of a sudden we are to applaud the MSM but again that’s to be expected.

    Still, if anything does come out of it, it could well be big this close to the election.

    [lprent: You know the answer to that around here. Posters write on what they find interesting, which may not be what you find interesting. You always have the option of starting your own blog. Personally I don’t find the winston stuff interesting. I think that the right have already done all of the damage they can to NZF. That attention (unfortunately) means that we’re likely to have them back in parliament]

  17. insider 17


    Mea culpa. Your turn now. The article never mentions the SFO – it says he told the Herald. It also says he told the Aussie NCA he left in June 88. The other article refers to the SFO asking about a lunch. Given the lunch was in 88 and he was in the process of leaving Elders, it would be a bit odd for him to say he left in 87 and even odder for that to be accepted.

  18. Ms M 18

    Oh dear, what a tangled web we weave. It looks like Johnny Boy may have lied to the Australian National Crime Authority in May 1991 about when he ended his employment with Elders. Tsk. Tsk.

    I wonder why?

  19. George.com 19

    Rob Muldoon once referred to, I believe, Bill Birch as a shiver looking for a spine to run up (or words to that effect). Now, with the Tranzrail memory loss, Brownlees Contact Energy ‘thats not pecuniary interest’ shares and this latest saga, is it too much to say that the National Party is
    “A bung looking for a pocket to line?”

    IrishBill: Muldoon was talking about Bill Rowling.

  20. IrishBill 20

    Insider, from that article: “Charles Sturt, the former SFO director who investigated the Equiticorp deals and took them to prosecution for fraud, yesterday confirmed Key’s account of his interview with the Serious Fraud Office.”

    Key’s account of his interview (to the Herald) includes the claim he had left Elders before the deal occurred. If that’s what he told the SFO, as Sturt’s comment implies, then he lied to the SFO.

  21. insider 21

    Love this latest quote

    “But Prime Minister Helen Clark tried to distance herself from the story this afternoon, saying: “This is not a story that I am handling at all.”‘

    But Helen is Labour’s self professed chief strategist. It appears she knows about it but is not ‘handling’ it. So who is? And why does the chief strategist not know?

  22. higherstandard 22


    As I said if he’s done anything wrong he should suffer the full force of the law.

    But against that we have this being dumped into the mix by Labour 10 days out from the election and the SFO stating that …

    Mr Sturt said Mr Key was simply one in a “vast array of innocent people, potential witnesses, in a massive fact-gathering exercise. I feel compelled to fully support the reported comments of John Key in relation to the H-Fee transaction. It should not need to be said that John Key was completely innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever. For any politician to hint or suggest otherwise would be absolutely rubbish and pure mischief-making”.

    So he’s either a crook that’s been caught out or it’s a Labour party smear – I guess we’ll find out over the next couple of days.

  23. Akldnut 23

    Milo – Oh, and who received the H-Fee? Why it was Equiticorp, who donated $250,000 to Labour. Does Labour take dirty money?

    Have you got a link to tell us where the money/donation originated from or is it merely wishful thinking that this donation was dirty money.

    I’d really like to see it or is it just another aspersion to make labour appear as shifty as Key?

  24. Sarah 24

    “But Prime Minister Helen Clark tried to distance herself from the story this afternoon, saying: “This is not a story that I am handling at all.””

    “In a drive to pin down Mr Key’s involvement in the case, Labour Party president Mike Williams took time out from the heat of the election to fly to Melbourne last week to search documents relating to a court case over the H-Fee.”

    So we are meant to believe that Mr Williams went on his own initiative, and without consulting the prime minister, to look into Key’s records in Melbourne?

    This is such a joke.

  25. insider 25


    And like I said, the interview appears to have been about the lunch he had not about the date he left. The article referneces the claim he left in 87 but that is the journalist writing it from file to provide background, not quoting anyone. Sturt is not quoted mentioning leaving dates at all just that Key is entirely innocent. So you can’t assume he said any such thing to the SFO who you would think would have a reasonable grasp of where people were at the time of an event being investigated.

  26. IrishBill 26

    “So you can’t assume he said any such thing to the SFO who you would think would have a reasonable grasp of where people were at the time of an event being investigated.”

    Insider, I reread the article and I think you are half right. It’s sufficiently loosely written that it’s hard to tell exactly what was being confirmed. I don’t share your confidence in the SFO being aware of exactly when Key left however.

  27. Akldnut 27

    Sarah – This is not a story that I am handling at all.
    “So we are meant to believe that Mr Williams went on his own initiative, and without consulting the prime minister, to look into Key’s records in Melbourne?”

    To me this means she is not handling it, not that she dosn’t know about it!!!!

    To quote Lew: Political speech is (usually) very specific, and it rests on peoples’ utterances being taken literally – to the full extent of what they actually say. Not more, not less.

  28. randal 28

    well he must of got his $50 mil from somwewhere!

  29. Francois 29

    The problem with all the ‘scandals’ that Labour has been able to dig up so far is that they are, for the most part TOO complex for the wider public. I would say most of this is pretty incomprehensible to the wider public and I think most people’s reaction would be: “meh.”

  30. Jeeves 30

    Labour had better hope this sticks because otherwise it is going to backfire big time. And by “stick” I mean he needs to be implicated in something dodgier than just getting some dates wrong. Sending your bag man to Melbourne in the last week of the campaign looks desperate. If it succeeds – worth it. But given how close Labour is to winning without this muck, I wonder if it’s worth it. We shall see.

  31. r0b 31

    So we are meant to believe that Mr Williams went on his own initiative, and without consulting the prime minister, to look into Key’s records in Melbourne? This is such a joke.

    As usual the right can only shoot at the messenger, hoping to distract from the message.

    Let’s just wait and see how this all unfolds shall we? On the face of it it seems that Key lied. People usually lie to conceal a deeper issue. But let’s hear Key’s side of the story. Perhaps he can clear it all up…

  32. gobsmacked 32

    “It’s all too complicated” has been said of every scandal from Watergate to Enron. Not fitting into a soundbite is hardly a defence.

    The funniest part (so far) is that John Key was cleared by the SFO, so therefore there is No Story. Now that sounds familiar …

    Maybe John and Winston really can work together?

  33. theodoresteel 33

    Probably about as hard hitting as any of the scandals implicating labour… the chinese business man anyone? Remember that? Exactly.

  34. Ianmac 34

    It is not that John has lapses of memory is it? And I am sure that he will have a perfectly credible answer. He has had a few decades to get it straight and though folk might suggest that it smells like a 5 day old snapper, they will be wrong to smear his good name, in an effort to snatch a victory from us upright, clean-living Nats. (Funnily enough had it been Don Brash I would totally reject any suggestion of duplicity.)

  35. NeillR 35

    I’m just wondering why it is that every time some new facts come to light about Helen Clark (and Labour’s) involvement in the Owen Glenn affair, that we get a fishing expedition about John Key? Last time it was the Transrail shares, now it’s the ‘H’ fee. And all the while a little child waits……..

  36. gobsmacked 36

    I’m just wondering why Owen Glenn’s word is Gospel when what he says is what you want to hear but …

    … ignored when he contradicts the conspiracy theory (NZ Herald, today).

  37. slightlyrighty 37

    Christ almighty.

    Talk about clutching at straws. The left can’t even keep track of the slander!

    You guys did this one already!

    Key was questioned, as were a number of employees. The then head of the SFO is on record as saying that Key had no involvement with the H-Fee

    Now answer this. You are about to commit fraud. Do you let the whole office know? Key helped the prosecution by telling what he knew, but was not in the loop.

    A person who was in the loop, but turned witness for the prosecution, did not finger Key, because he was not involved.

  38. NeillR 38

    Gobsmacked – Owen Glenn’s word was good enough for the Greens, why isn’t it good enough for you?

  39. KiwiGirl 39

    following Milo’s post at 5.12 pm
    [lprent: Source? Link? How much did they donate to National? Or should I regard this as a troll?]

    “Hawkins said Equiticorp gave $250,000 to Labour in 1986 during pro-free enterprise Finance Minister Roger Douglas’s four-year stint under Prime Minister David Lange and a “substantially lesser” amount to National the same year. “I expect if (Labour) are being fair they will mention that as well,” he said.”
    Sunday 26 August 2008

    On another point; I took a 6 month break from a company I worked for, I think, in 1993 – or it could have been in 1994. I worked there again for about 8 months before I resigned totally. I would have to go and find the box [somewhere] that may have some papers that would probably remind me conclusively of the exact months and year that this happened – but on the spur of the moment recall………
    I believe it was 1993 and I would almost swear to it in good faith, but without checking I could not guarantee. Memory is a funny thing.
    If you discovered that it was in fact 1994, would you come after me trumpeting that I had deliberately “lied” because I had ‘obviously’ something to hide?

    [lprent: Thank you. Always hate these things popping up without substantiation. Fixed your link as well]

  40. Matthew Pilott 40

    Kiwigirl, if the place you worked for was involved in a $67m fraud, and there was a chance youcould be implicated would you look in your box for the dates, before the SFO came to see you, or before a Newspaper interviewed you about it, or would you not bother at all? If you choose the latter, then I’d say your attention to detail and preparation would rule you out as being fit for major public office…

    Heh, I’m not surprised they’d give money to Labour under Douglas, and National…

  41. milo 41

    Thanks KiwiGirl. I assume that’s all the source you needed lprent. But let me know if you want a link for the denials of John Key’s involvement by Chas Sturt, Alan Hawkins and Ken Jarret.

    Frankly, I’m surprised the Standard would print this stuff without knowing those kinds of facts backwards.

  42. Ari 42

    The left can’t even keep track of the slander!

    Labour and the left are manifestly different creatures, thankyou.

  43. Robin Grieve 43

    Herald says it was a fizzer. Another desperate attempt by Labour who have used taxpayer funded researchers who not supposed to do this sort of mucky muckraking.
    Why is Labour soooo desperate and fighting like a cornered cat?
    I thought you were all happy with the poll trends?
    Only 9 days to go and the most corrupt and nasty government in history will be consigned to history.Let it be a long time before we hear from Labour again.

  44. NeillR 44

    How big does it look now?

  45. Nick 45

    IrishBill would have us believe Key told the SFO the date he left and they accepted it without checking it.

    *Tui Ad goes here*.

  46. Jarvis Pink 46

    Robin Grieve
    October 30, 2008 at 7:48 am

    “…the most corrupt and nasty government in history…”

    Oh good grief Robin, you really need to get out more.

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