Feedback: Ezequiel Trumper Responds to ACT Party
Scoop note: Mr Trumpers feedback is in response to ACT MP Heather Roy's column of 11 November 2005
I have seen the list compiled by the ACT Party and republished by you last week concerning "Golden Handshakes" in New Zealand.
I am Ezequiel Trumper, former general counsel and company secretary of Airways Corporation who is named personally in that list as having received a 'golden handshake' of $160,000.
I wish to correct the record.
I was not paid a golden handshake. That is a derisory expression used when somebody gets a payment he does not deserve. This was no gift. To the contrary: what I received was very small compensation for what I was put through.
These are all matters of public record, and not new. To put the issue in context, and to dispel any notion that I may have received an inappropriate payment I was not entitled to, your readers ought to read the Media Release issued by me (on 3/7/2000) on these matters. This statement, incidentally, was drafted in conjunction with my then counsel Hugh Rennie QC (whose fees were in fact paid by the Crown to assist me in helping the Government in investigating the alleged corruption reported in Parliament by the Hon. Winston Peters).
If the ACT Party is to use my name (I am now a corporate law partner practising in Australia) the following release should be put firmly on the record, and I would appreciate if you did so.
In my decade practising corporate law in Wellington, it became quite clear to me that the problem in New Zealand is not the payment of a "golden handshake" to some (not me), but a corrupt covert system which pretends that nothing ever happens, despite insiders being fully aware of the reverse.
The media release setting matters in context which I invite you to reproduce below was circulated to every media outlet in New Zealand at the time. It was never challenged, legally or otherwise by anybody, despite naming names specifically and in detail. To New Zealand's discredit, some of the individuals mentioned in the statement continue to circulate in the business community as if nothing had ever happened. That is, however, no longer a matter for me.
I should point out for the record, that I sent a similar note to the ACT Party, which I posted in their website. The ACT Party did not have the courtesy of an acknowledgment. That is regrettable. However, I am only interested in preserving the record of a time when I attempted, in extraordinarily difficult circumstances, to defend the interest of New Zealand taxpayers.
Ezequiel Trumper, Sydney.
Statement by E E Trumper, following release of Auditor-General Report on ACNZ (3/7/2000)
I am pleased that most of the main issues and concerns I had about Airways' participation in the NATS privatisation are identified in the Report issued by the Auditor General.
The Report is an appropriate starting point for the discussion of the key facts, which in my view are:
• There were 20 million pounds (66 million dollars) available to New Zealand under the NATS proposals I was dealing with. The Report says that Chairman Maasland accepted only half of that money for Airways, while the three executives stood to gain positions outside Airways where they could in time earn bonuses up to $33 million personally as "management incentives". I did what I could to make sure that Airways, and its owners the New Zealand public, got all of the money.
• The Report says that Chairman Maasland did not tell his Board, or anybody, for two months and through two full board meetings, that three Airways executives were offered performance incentives which could gain them millions of dollars personally if Airways' involvement in the NATS privatisation led to a successful transaction.
• The Report says that when they were asked to approve Airways' involvement in the NATS privatisation, neither the Airways Board nor the Shareholder Ministers were told about the millions of dollars available personally for the three Airways executives.
• The Report says that the Airways Board did not seek advice on how much money Airways could make for participating in the NATS privatisation, other than from the three Airways executives, who had a personal interest in the NATS privatisation.
• The Report says that the Chief Executive Craig Sinclair argued he had nothing to do with the $33 million dollars available to him and the two other Airways executives. However, the report also says that I told the Auditor General that was not the case and that I saw that the Chief Executive was involved in the drafting of the contract securing his private benefit.
• The Report says that the money I received was not substantially or solely paid to silence me. The Report is right. The Airways money did not buy my silence. Despite not being the subject of any allegations, as stated in the Report, and having no legal obligation at all to do anything, I co-operated with the Crown’s inquiry, and told the Government all I knew.
• The money compensated me, in accordance with New Zealand law.
• The Report records that I complied with all my legal and ethical obligations as Airways General Counsel at all times, and that I worked solely and exclusively to ensure that Airways' conduct in the NATS negotiations met acceptable standards of corporate behaviour and probity.
I am pleased that the Auditor-General has acknowledged the role I played in defence of the public interest. The serious matters identified in the Report raise grave questions that Parliament should consider further. As a first step, and to fully understand what happened, the relevant papers provided to the Crown by all parties should be tabled in Parliament as an appendix to the Report.
The Prime Minister promised that the people would get to know the full facts. The Government should now do this. I have already said to the Government that I waive all confidentiality, without conditions, so that the people can have all the facts.
I wish to make it clear that, despite contrary allegations, I did not make information available to the media, and abided by my confidentiality undertakings at all times. I did my duty, inside the Corporation, in a proper fashion. The Board of Airways acknowledged this in December, the reference they gave me confirmed this in January, and now the Auditor-General’s report has praised my actions. In this respect, I hope that this will be the end of some personal attacks against me by Airways which have distressed me and my family.
E E Trumper 3 July 2000