Serious Fraud Office files criminal charges against four people over donations paid into a National Party electorate bank account

Serious Fraud Office files criminal charges against four people over donations paid into a National Party electorate bank account

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) says it has filed criminal charges against four people over donations paid into a National Party electorate bank account.

In a statement the SFO didn't name the four, who are due to appear in the Auckland District Court on February 25.

The SFO investigation came after former National Party MP Jami-Lee Ross accused National leader Simon Bridges of asking him to collect a $100,000 donation from businessman, Yikun Zhang, and then split it up into smaller amounts to hide it. In a statement Bridges says neither he nor the National Party have been charged. 

Below is a statement issued by the SFO on Wednesday afternoon.

SFO files charges in National Party donations case

The Serious Fraud Office filed criminal charges today against four people in relation to donations paid into a National Party electorate bank account.

The defendants are scheduled to appear in the Auckland District Court on 25 February.

The SFO will not make any further comment until any name suppression issues have been dealt with.

ABOUT THE SFO

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) was established in 1990 under the Serious Fraud Office Act.

The SFO is the lead law enforcement agency for investigating and prosecuting serious or complex financial crime, including bribery and corruption.

The presence of an agency dedicated to white collar crime is integral to New Zealand’s reputation for transparency, integrity, fair-mindedness and low levels of corruption.

This work contributes to a productive and prosperous New Zealand and the SFO’s collaborative efforts with international partners also reduce the serious harm that corrupt business practices do to the global economy.

The SFO has two operational teams: the Evaluation and Intelligence team and the Investigations team.

The SFO operates under two sets of investigative powers.

Part 1 of the SFO Act provides that it may act where the Director “has reason to suspect that an investigation into the affairs of any person may disclose serious or complex fraud.”

Part 2 of the SFO Act provides the SFO with more extensive powers where: “…the Director has reasonable grounds to believe that an offence involving serious or complex fraud may have been committed…”

In considering whether a matter involves serious or complex fraud, the Director may, among other things, have regard to:

  • the suspected nature and consequences of the fraud and/or;
  • the suspected scale of the fraud and/or;
  • the legal, factual and evidential complexity of the matter and/or;
  • any relevant public interest considerations. 

And here's a statement from the National Party.

Statement from National Party and National Party Leader Simon Bridges

As expected neither National Party Leader Simon Bridges, nor the National Party have been charged following an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office.

“I have always maintained I had nothing to do with the donations. As I have always said the allegations against both myself and the Party were baseless and false,” National Party Leader Simon Bridges says.

“This was always just a vendetta by a disgruntled former MP.”

“I have always been confident in the way the Party receives and declares donations,” General Manager Greg Hamilton says. 

“We are happy to put this matter behind us and will not be making any other comment.”

We welcome your comments below. If you are not already registered, please register to comment.

Remember we welcome robust, respectful and insightful debate. We don't welcome abusive or defamatory comments and will de-register those repeatedly making such comments. Our current comment policy is here.

53 Comments

The way this works is, there is legal process, many steps and a court will make a decision.

...somehow I can't see you saying anything of the sort if it was directed at Labour or the Greens instead of National.
Heh, the boys in blue, having a word with the boys in blue..

14
up

Agree with Pragmatist - Henry loves to besmirch anyone but is beloved Soyman and the Party (CCP)

Boys, your taking this way too seriously, and your crack at mind reading brings alot of smiles.

Kick back and reflect how folk think, it's not about being on a team.

Lives 3 years as Healthcare professionals on JLR/blue import based voters area (Flat Bush), only to realised that all blue t/here has been bought by the mainland red/CCP (not our poor Lab).
SFO surely found, just a tip of the iceberg as what we've seen daily in that JLR/Botany electoral. Twice 'dumb us' being misled by Blue team, but now can proudly said this year too .. Never again.

11
up

Well that is a kick in the goolies for Sighmon.

Simoon's statement reminds me of Winston holding up a NO sign.

Perhaps the COL has a schedule of "releases" for Nat, one a month till the election certainly wont hurt.

“This was always just a vendetta by a disgruntled former MP.”

OK, so the SFO is acting on a "vendetta." If that is the case, the SFO is incompetent.

And it seems to tbe case, you're criminally liable for handing over donations, but not receiving them under instructions to make it appear that it's not a "present."

Not if the information that came out due tt the vendetta is actual verifiable evidence of a crime thats been committed.

OK. Soimon says the allegations are "baseless and false". What does that mean? That the criminal charges against those handing over the money are baseless and false?

It means Simon is a politician in denial mode.. just remains to be seen whether the denial is justified or BS.

Yes, but this is proceeding to court. Surely there are grounds for this. Do you think it's a "test case" for the legal system?

Well, the legal beagles at the SFO think there are grounds for this, Simon denies it, I guess we'll have to see what the Judge says in many months from now.

Simon, I see some very expensive jewellery in your future...the gps equipped kind....Which ankle...left or right?

Blue suits, red faces. Threw the dirt at WP but didn’t check the rear view mirror did they. Bearing in mind the political stakes, present and future, don’t think the SFO would be having a go unless there was no way it, could be ignored.

Nah, this might be the excuse the Nats need to slip the knife between the ribs and make way for someone that doesn't have a nasty stench associated with them.. But who? Crusher, Luxton?

Luxton not even an MP. To enter parliament, become leader of the opposition then PM. All in eight months. That would be farcical. Was he that good at AirNZ and was AirNZ that good while he was. My personal experience is that AirNZ has continued to decline in terms of passenger service since the departure of Norris. But yes National are not looking exactly buoyant are they. Maybe old Bill should have got himself a shirt with an armour plated back and hung in there. The country may well have been partial to an experienced steady set of hands come election time.

Put his name at the top of the party list and hes guaranteed to get a seat.. if there is the will there is a way (unless there is something in the national party constitution that stops it?)

Luxon is Air NZ's version of Theo Speirings, in stripping out all the costly staff...which reads experienced staff the Airline is swimming in steadily declining circles. So much so that it is advertising for pilots. The near monopoly state owned airline is advertising for pilots, unbelieveable and after reading the pay bands I can see why...no wonder they can't get any hands on the controls there isn't any money in it! Luxton would be worse than Bill English, don't let him anywhere near the leadership.

I can see the similarities between Luxton & Key. Get out while the going is good. Just another fair weather sailor, with a hugely self inflated ego.

Judith Collins hasn't had the best relationship with the Serious Fraud Office either.

Simon has burnt too many bridges, the only way the national party will revive itself is with a new leader... then they still need the right people.

15
up

Nothing says democracy like a 100k donation lol

10
up

Will the National / CCP spirit of partnership be on the rocks after this?

12
up

"We are happy to put this behind us"
I'm sure you'd love to, Simon. It's not that simple. LOL

"As expected neither National Party Leader Simon Bridges, nor the National Party have been charged following an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office."

Bridges hasn't been charged. I feel like some people here are choosing to push their own barrows without giving this bit much thought.

Nobody on this site has said as such. Question still remains, it's criminal to give donations, but not to receive donations and present it as so it doesn't look suspect.

One wonders if Jamie Lee Ross is one of the four. If he is, the case would seem likely to feature some very interesting testimony.

Seems a solid bet given that he would most likely be crowing on twitter if he wasn't: https://twitter.com/jamileeross?lang=en

Agreed as Jamie-Lee was compliant at the time and he has every reason to crow out loud for political kudos. Very suspicious.

True, thats what i'd expect, But maybe he's somewhere where he hasn't got internet access?, or listening to his lawyer/handler/PR consultant and keeping his trap shut? (might be a first)

There's commentators suggesting he will be under some sort of house arrest about three posts above this one.

Bridges hasn't been charged yet. Proceedings are only at prima facie so who knows what could come up subsequently....given he is closely wedded to possibly the most corrupt town in the Country...Tauranga...I'm picking something white and boney is soon to tumble out of his hallway storage...and I'm not talking about Don Brash....or am I?

Not far from the truth on Tauranga.

SFO might like to consider investigating some of the off market transactions the local Council have done.

TCC are utterly corrupt and inept, I have had dealings with that entity and it really ought to be under administration permenantly. Theres just too many moneyed up chancers that have retired to the region over the years and they have infested local government for years....

So the blue side has the charge while the red side gets the defamation case. I love election year...

And in local news

https://i.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/119074030/police-to-progress-inquir...

Dalziel said she had acted on her husband's advice that none of the donors paid more than $1500 for the auctioned items, so could remain anonymous.

By the time this goes to court, it will be around September.. couldn't get any better timing for Simon

More like September 2022.
Which reminds me, when are we going to be done with the Kim Dotcom thing?

Yep the SFO doesn't normally move fast. They are still daydreaming over whether the $500M !! NZ photocopier company fraud needs someone to answer.

So if there are no charges against the recipients (National) implies dodgy donors. Laundering money or somesuch? Dividing up a bigger donation from one party using multiple smaller donors? Suggests a politically sensitive source. Rich Chiwi or PRC?

Probably Shipos mate Mr Yan.

According to David Farrar, likely to be that the donors didn't disclose the 'real donor'. Wet bus ticket stuff by the looks of things. Soimon and the gang are fine, even if they were probably aware all along of who the real donor is.

so the donors committed a fraudulent act allegedly
but the people receiving did nothing wrong.
if it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck and looks like a duck---------- then its most likely a duck
hope it does go to court and the truth outs
the nats cosying up to the CCP is why i can never vote for them again, i want to vote for someone that does not take their orders from offshore

Luckily for us, our justice system is based on a presumption of innocence. You don't want to vote for anything to do with the CCP, yet you're quite happy to abandon a fundamental principal of western justice?

Jian Yang?

Well, it's like knowingly receiving stolen goods, innit? Nothing wrong with that, roight?

All the parties are taking orders from China because upsetting them costs money. Currently ALL FLIGHTS direct from China should be stopped but Labour won't do it.

Regardless of polarized political views its great to see the system working. There would only be a handful of other countries in the world where such corruption would be exposed and prosecuted.

Meh

Labour claimed moral high ground a week ago.

Good luck with the timing, or a terrific jab when you know opponent about to get punched? :)

Does 'no-surprises' legislation extend to SFO activities?