22 Sep 2008

Ethical MisBehaviour a key issue.



HOW MANY SHARES DO YOU REALLY OWN?

Answer: I can't remember. It could be 20-25000. It might be 50000. Oh gosh I remember now it was 100,000. Mind you I had to be pushed to admit it though. - John Key being slippery yet again.

This press release deserves a lot more publicity than the Herald will give it.

It would appear that there is one rule for Winston and another less rigid one for John Key and his money trader colleagues.

Labour has accused John Key of lying over his ownership of Tranz Rail shares amid revelations the National Party leader failed to fully disclose his interests.

Mr Key's interests became an issue earlier this year when Labour claimed a conflict of interest because he had asked parliamentary questions about the Government's planned buyback of the country's rail tracks while he still had a shareholding in the rail operator.

Despite his role at the time as National's associate transport spokesman, he did not disclose his shareholding.

When Mr Key was questioned on the issue this year he said his family trust had held 30,000 shares in the company, but had sold them on June 9 and June 12, 2003.

He said his questions and comments never led to any gains from the company's share value.

But Finance Minister Michael Cullen today released correspondence and share register information contradicting several of Mr Key's claims.

The information showed Mr Key, through his trust and under his own name, had owned 100,000 rather than 30,000 Tranz Rail shares.

Questioned on the issue before he was aware the information had been released, Mr Key told One News his shareholding ranged between 25,000 and 50,000 shares up until June 2003.

But when pressed on the issue he admitted there were more shares.

"Actually maybe 100,000 from memory, sometimes 50,000, sometimes 100,000, yep," he said.

"Yeah, sorry, there was 100,000 in total."

Mr Key said no one had questioned him previously on exactly how many shares he had owned.

The papers released by Dr Cullen show Mr Key personally bought 50,000 shares in Tranz Rail in May 2003 after he had actively pursued information from the Government on the company.

He sold those shares five weeks later for $51,000 -- more than double their $22,500 purchase price.

However, 50,000 shares bought by his family trust in February 2002, were sold in June 2003 at a loss of $132,000.

Dr Cullen said Mr Key should have declared his shareholding to Parliament and his failure to do so was unethical.

"John Key lied because he knew he had something to hide," he said.

"Mr Key was in fact commenting publicly on Tranz Rail, meeting with bidders for the rail track and vigorously pursuing the release of commercially relevant information all while being an undisclosed shareholder in the firm."

One News has just run the revelation that John Key lied to the public and to Parliament about the extent of his shareholding in Tranzrail while using his position to ask questions about the Government’s intentions for rail.

More importantly, it seems he met with Rail America in his capacity as National’s transport spokesperson to encourage the company to go ahead with its intention to purchase Tranzrail. He said in a newsletter that he hoped:

the interest shown by Rail America will be picked up by others.

Having pumped the sale without declaring his interest, he then divested of 50,000 Tranzrail shares, doubling his money within five weeks.

The public needs to know what went on during that meeting with Rail America. We also need to know the full details of all Key’s holdings and an investigation needs to be held into whether he has misused his position for financial gain anywhere else.

Given one of National’s favourite taunts over the last three years has been ‘corruption’, one can only hope the media will see real corruption for what it is.

Dr Cullen said Mr Key had spent a lot of time attacking Prime Minister Helen Clark's credibility over the New Zealand First donations scandal, but had covered up his own actions.

"For him to have in effect grossly misled both the media and the public on this I think raises that issue of trust yet again," he told reporters.

"Clearly Mr Key was not simply not forthcoming, he actually lied."

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