Too many trusts to trust

This morning’s Herald  raises more questions over Winston Peters’ legal bills because New Zealand First papers have exposed another trust.

The documents firstly confirm the existence of the Winston Peters Fighting Fund Trust.

This was established in February 1993 specifically to pay legal costs associated with Peters’ legal battles – such as the high-profile defamation action taken against him by businessman Selwyn Cushing.

This trust, of which Peters is listed in the documents as one of three trustees, is separate to the secretive Spencer Trust, which Peters has said he had no knowledge of.

Minutes from a September 1993 meeting of the fighting fund trust confirm an “account for payment” for $4500 to Henry, money that former trustee Suzanne Edmonds says was owed for legal ser-vices carried out on behalf of Peters.

At the next monthly meeting of the trust, the issue of the payment to Henry comes up again and it is agreed arrangements will be made by the trust to pay Henry within the following fortnight.

Henry did not respond to Herald on Sunday questions regarding the $4500 “account for payment”, but did tell the privileges committee last week that since 1991 he had not issued Peters with an invoice for legal work.

Edmonds, however, said under the strict practices of the trust, payments were not made unless an invoice had been submitted.

If a payment of $4500 was to have been made to Henry there would have been an invoice from Henry, or at the very least from his instructing solicitor, for that amount, she said.

“…that trust was run very well and we certainly paid on our invoice [basis]. That is the manner in which we ran the trust.”

Edmonds also claimed other payments were made by the trust to Henry through his instructing solicitor.

… Edmonds, who is no longer with NZ First, said she did not wish to disclose the reasons why she parted company with the party.

However, she hoped all matters relating to party donations were “investigated properly so the truth comes out”.

Anyone interested in New Zealand’s reputation for its lack of corruption will share her hopes and until the truth comes out we’re left with too many trusts and too little about which we can trust Peters and the unusual workings of his party.

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