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Winebox Appeal Nears End This Afternoon

by Selwyn Manning
Final arguments are being heard at the Auckland High Court today in a challenge to the findings of the Winebox Commission.

Lawyers acting for New Zealand First leader, Winston Peters, are calling for the Court to overturn the findings of the Commission of Inquiry into the Winebox Tax evasion/avoidance allegations.

The Court is being asked to set aside some of the findings of commissioner, Sir Ronald Davison, saying he erred when he found there was no fraud in any of the Winebox transactions.

Lawyers for the Serious Fraud Office, the Inland Revenue Department and merchant bankers Fay Richwhite have all argued for the commissioner's opinion that there was no fraud.

Fay Richwhite also argued that the report's criticism of Peters should stand, saying he stood condemned forever by his failure to back up allegations of fraud and corruption.

Sir Ronald Davison’s lawyer has told the court that even if the former Chief Justice had made a legal error, the SFO and IRD had still investigated the Winebox transactions properly.

Final arguments from Mr Peters’ lawyer will be delivered this afternoon. The two High Court judges are expected to reserve their decision.

Mr Peters was initially refused after a High Court judgement ruled that Inquiry head, Sir Ronald Davison's findings could not be challenged. This ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeal in November 1998.

Much of the evidence before the Court has centered on the Magnum transactions, which it is alleged detail Tax Credit deals between European Pacific, a New Zealand listed company, and the Cook Islands government. Mr Peters has insisted the Magnum transactions add up to tax evasion denying New Zealand millions in lost tax revenue.

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