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Is Commercial Information Secure In Ministry?

Is Commercial Information Secure In Anderton's Ministry?

Friday 10 May 2002

Jim Anderton must reassure businesses from New Zealand and abroad that commercially sensitive information provided to his Ministry of Economic Development is secure, ACT Finance Spokesman MP Rodney Hide said today.

Mr Hide's call comes as former senior Ministry employee Errol Noel Brassett, faces 24 charges in Wellington District Court.

Mr Brassett was a senior investigator with the Ministry's Trade Remedies Competition and Enterprise Division.

The Crown accuses Mr Brassett of corruptly using information he obtained at the Ministry to gain an advantage for himself, copying documents and handwritten notes, making a document that was a reproduction of another document, theft of a computer and corruptly using information to obtain indirectly an advantage for others.

Several charges refer to trade remedies in Saudi Arabia.

While the Court will decide whether Mr Brassett is guilty of the offences he has been charged with, Mr Hide said it was now Jim Anderton's responsibility to reassure businesses urgently.

"The Ministry of Economic Development receives and holds extremely commercially sensitive information, especially in the Trade Remedies division.

"This division receives highly sensitive and detailed commercial information on the costs of producing goods that are exported out of New Zealand and imported into New Zealand. It holds this information under WTO agreements to enforce anti-dumping laws. There is no doubt that it would be devastating for any business if this information got into a competitor's hands.

"That's why Jim Anderton must front up and either declare that while he's been Minister no breaches of security in respect of confidential information held on third parties has occurred, or else explain just what breaches have occurred under his watch.

"Jim Anderton is the Minister in charge. He is accountable for the Ministry. It is well-past time that he fronts up," Mr Hide said.

ENDS

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