29 Oct 2008

The Gambler throws the dice once too often

The earlier post: Look Alikes appears to have had a ring of truth about it when one considers this story on the Herald's website today.

The Great Gambler appears to have thrown the flip flop dice once too often - this time they've fallen against the run of play.

Where was John Key when Allan Hawkins needed him?

National Party leader John Key faces accusations of misleading the public about his knowledge of one of New Zealand's most notorious white collar crimes, the New Zealand Herald website reported today.

An item posted on the newspaper's website said the allegations centred around the so-called H-Fee -- two payments totalling $A66.5 million to Equiticorp funnelled via sham foreign exchange transactions in 1988 -- and an interview Mr Key gave the Herald last year.

During the interview in August 2007, Mr Key confirmed he worked as a foreign exchange dealer at Elders Merchant finance, part of Elders IXL, which made the payments to the Allan Hawkins-controlled Equiticorp.

But he said he left Elders in 1987, before the transactions were processed.

"Three months before any of these deals got decided I left Elders...I was never involved in them," Mr Key said during the interview.

The Herald said it had checked court documents made public by the Labour Party which included the fact that Mr Key resigned from Elders in June 1988, six months after the first payment.

It said there was no evidence Mr Key was involved in handling the sham transactions.

The Herald said it had read the 13,000 page court file in Melbourne which contained a statement by Mr Key in which he said he resigned from Elders on June 24, 1988, and was immediately placed on leave because he was going to a rival company.

It said Labour was planning to drop the "bombshell" on the election campaign trail tomorrow.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said if the Herald had published the story then they obviously believed there were questions to answer.

Miss Clark said it was not a story that she was handling, but whether it was a bombshell depended on the answers to the questions raised by the story.

Asked if it was appropriate for Labour to be digging around in Mr Key's past, Miss Clark said the lives of political leaders were open books.

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