Within a very short time of Wintson Peters announcing that the Susan Couch Victims of Crime Trust had been given $80,000 by New Zealand First several blogs had the story behind the story.
Today the story entered the mainstream media and Emily Watt wrote:
A trust set up to receive half the misspent $158,000 that NZ First was ordered to repay was not registered till three months after Winston Peters announced he had donated the money to charity, documents reveal.
The Dominion Post revealed on Saturday that NZ First paid $78,000 to a charity set up in the name of Susan Couch, the sole survivor of the 2001 RSA murders.
Ms Couch has said she has no idea how much money was paid into the trust, and Mr Peters has said she had not yet received any of the money, as it remains in the trust’s bank account.
Mr Peters’ so-called “blood-brother” and lawyer Bryan Henry, his solicitor Dennis Gates, and Mr Henry’s colleague Brian Coburn have full control over how the money is spent, including the ability to pay themselves all reasonable expenses.
Mr Henry is also acting for Ms Couch, winning a landmark Supreme Court ruling allowing her to sue the Corrections Department. He has said he is working for free.
So: the trust wasn’t established until three months after Peters said the party had made the donations; Peters’ lawyer who is also Miss Couch’s lawyer is a trustee and Miss Couch hasn’t received a cent from the trust.
Can we trust this trust and can we take Peters’ word about where the rest of the money went?
Even if we can it doesn’t absolve New Zealand First from its responsibility to repay the money it owes the tax payer.