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Prebble should take responsibility

22 April 2001 Media Statement

Prebble should take responsibility

Act leader Richard Prebble should take responsibility for the abuse of the Electoral Act disclosed in the Sunday Star Times today and resign or give very good reasons why he should not, Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton says.

He says Act has been caught in what appears to be a political money-laundering scheme.

"This is a stomach-turning scandal of monumental proportions. The only possible interpretation of the scheme is that it has been designed to defeat the purposes of the Electoral Act.

"To put the scheme in perspective, if the Electoral Commission had been asked to approve a scheme where money was channelled through secret trusts to avoid or evade an electoral law, then it would have declined approval.

"The scheme must be either avoidance or evasion. Neither is acceptable. It is not a good look for political parties that are involved in making laws to go off and design schemes to get around the laws they make.

"Queries over the scheme include doubts over what tax was paid on contributions to the trust fund. A full declaration should be made of the gift duty paid to facilitate the arrangement.

"The use of family members' and nominees' names to channel donations raises further queries. For those donations to be acceptable, the individuals would have to use their own money to make donations they choose to make. If the money was simply put in their name, and the individuals involved did not make legitimate choices, then the scheme discloses an intention to deceive.

"The Act leader Richard Prebble needs to state clearly whether he knowingly had any involvement in the scheme. If he knew about it and said nothing, then he was part of the deception.

"Perk-buster Rodney Hide was the President of the Act Party at the time of the scheme. He, too, should be accountable.

"The National Party has some explaining to do as well. It operates a so-called Free Enterprise Trust that is obviously designed to launder anonymous political donations. If the National Party thinks it is any cleaner than Act then it should come clean and disclose all of its significant anonymous donations to the 'Free Enterprise Trust.'

Jim Anderton wants changes to tighten up disclosure of party funding.

"All donations over $250 should be required to be disclosed. Anonymous donations over that level should be banned. The Alliance is not against donations over that sum, but donors should be prepared to put their names along side their contribution."

ENDS

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