Finance Minister Bill English has pledged the government will not use its regulatory powers to protect its economic interests as a guarantor of over NZ$1.3 billion worth of South Canterbury Finance debt, saying the regulatory process will be kept separate from the political process.
Speaking to Interest.co.nz in a Double Shot interview (8 minutes 10 seconds), English said the Serious Fraud Office investigation into Allan Hubbard and the decision to put his companies into statutory management were regulatory decisions and not political decisions.
"I wouldn't take a view about the individuals or the companies involved," English said when asked if he had a view on South Canterbury's survival or the political heat being generated in the South Island by the case. "There's a bit of concern about it."
"But in the end these issues are regulatory issues not political ones and they need to be handled that way, particularly in this case because the government would have to be pretty careful about using its regulatory position to favour its own exposure," English said.
"This is an aspect of this which hasn't really been debated ,and we've got to be very careful that the government doesn't act in a way that is designed to minimise its own risks as a guarantor," he said.
"The regulatory agencies need to act in a quite an independent manner, regardless of what exposure the government has."