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Helen Clark's Tamihere Woes Deepen - He Must Go

Helen Clark's Tamihere Woes Deepen - He Must Go

ACT New Zealand Leader Rodney Hide today said Prime Minister Helen Clark couldn't continue to duck responsibility for John Tamihere and the golden koha scandal now engulfing her government.

Mr Hide today called on the Prime Minister "to let the country know whether she and her government approve of a Minister misleading her and the nation and why she talks of setting new standards in one breath and in the next defends the existence in her Cabinet of a man who has in the past pleaded guilty to forgery and uttering and is now being investigated by the Serious Fraud Office.

"Helen Clark is showing just how shonky her government is by her defence of this man".

The besieged Minister appears to have survived to date because of his popularity with grass roots Labour and Clark's dependence on him to prop up her minority government, but Hide maintains that Tamihere has finally gone too far.

His past includes pleading guilty to two counts of forgery and two counts of uttering to obtain $160,000 out of Housing New Zealand. Helen Clark forgave him that.

Then he promised not to take a golden handshake and promptly did, behind the Prime Minister's back. And that, it seems, is forgiven too, given the defence of this behaviour, in the Prime Minister's name, by Finance Minister Dr Michael Cullen. A defence that Hide maintains speaks volumes for the Government's moral and ethical code.

Further, John Tamihere paid no tax on his golden handshake and that it seems is acceptable too with John Tamihere dreaming up the extraordinary explanation that this was koha that he could not refuse for fear of insulting the Maori trust. So that's okay then.

But now the Prime Minister's "new standards" are to be sorely tested with the "respected" Cabinet Minister being referred to the SFO for possible fraud.

Hide wants to know if "that will be okay too"?

This follows the forensic report by Paragon Risk Limited into eight fake invoices paid by the Waipareira Trust. Invoices signed off by then Chief Financial Officer Mike Tolich and CEO John Tamihere.

The report by former Serious Fraud Office investigator Phil Roigard is damning. The Executive Summary states:

"On the basis of the information available to date we believe that the eight paid invoices are not genuine. The inability to readily identify these organisations, the false and /or vague nature of their addresses, and the cash cheque methodology of their payment is cause for concern. Other issues such as to the identical nature of the invoices, down to common spelling mistakes add to that concern.

"No knowledge of the organisations and the resultant work product is known by existing Waipareira staff who were working for the Trust in 1999 and it appears that knowledge can only come from the men who authorised and approved the invoices for payment, namely Mike Tolich and John Tamihere".

The report concludes:

"Issues of possible breach of fiduciary duty and/or potential criminal offences may be involved and with that in mind you may consider that this matter should be more appropriately determined by a statutory authority such as the NZ Police or the Serious Fraud Office".

Trust deputy chairwoman Naida Glavish has confirmed the Board will be referring the matter to the SFO.

"Mr Tamihere won't be back in Cabinet while the SFO are investigating him. But Helen Clark still won't sack him. John Tamihere's in for a long holiday with the Ministerial pay and perks all courtesy of Helen Clark. So much for Helen Clark's standards," Mr Hide said.

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