Key Findings In Report Of Douglas White QC
21 December 2004
Summary Of Key Findings In Report Of Douglas White QC
Douglas White QC’s report clears John Tamihere of every one of the serious allegations made against him. The allegations were:
1. That John Tamihere failed to pay tax on a $195,000 payout
This allegation has been found to be false. The payment was always net of tax. John Tamihere had no obligation to pay tax on it. That was and is the Trust’s responsibility.
Paragraphs 6.31 & 6.32 & 6.38
2. That John Tamihere failed to pay tax on a $22,000 bonus in 1998
Again, this allegation was false. The payment was net of tax and John Tamihere therefore had no obligation to pay tax on it. That was and is the Trust’s responsibility.
3. That the $22,000 bonus in 1998 had not been properly authorised by the Trust
This allegation was false. The 1998 bonus payment was properly authorised by the Trust Board and that is recorded in a written resolution
4. That John Tamihere failed to pay tax on a vehicle provided to him by Westland Limited (a company partly owned by the Trust)
This allegation was false. The payment of Fringe Benefit Tax was a matter for Westland and the Trust and was in fact paid in full.
5. That John Tamihere’s 1999 election expenses return failed to include donations of over $20,000 from the Trust.
This allegation was false. The Trust did not make any donation and John Tamihere’s election return included every donation it was required to include.
6. That John Tamihere’s 1999 election expenses return failed to include significant election expenses
This allegation was false. The return included all required expenses, with the possible exception of a payment of $877.50 for some signage. The Report explains the reasons for the accidental omission of that payment (for which there was a ‘reasonable explanation’) and finds that it does not render the return false. Paragraphs 7.13-7.25
7. That John Tamihere exceeded the $20,000 limit on election expenses for the 1999 election
This allegation was false. John Tamihere’s total election expenses for the 1999 election were $12,131.58 which is well within the $20,000 limit. This is confirmed both by Mr White and the Chief Electoral Officer.
8. That John Tamihere’s Ministerial declaration of assets and interests failed to include an interest in Maori land
This allegation was false. Mr Tamihere correctly advised the Cabinet Office of a non-crystallised interest under his father’s estate and the Cabinet Office correctly decided not to include that in the Register (because it was no a vested interest)
9. That John Tamihere’s Ministerial declaration of assets and interests failed to include the Toyota vehicle provided to him by the Trust/Westland
The Report suggests there is ‘some doubt’ about this (relatively trivial) issue and that it may therefore have been ‘prudent’ to discuss it with the Cabinet Office. John Tamihere did not in fact have any ‘doubt’ because he always regarded the vehicle as part of a part of the 1999 departure package and therefore not something that arose while he was a Minister.
10. That John Tamihere’s Ministerial declaration of assets and interests failed to include various residential properties
These allegations were all false. John Tamihere is a bare trustee of those properties for his sister’s family trust and has no beneficial interest in them. Interests of that type are not required to be disclosed in a Ministerial declaration.
11. That John Tamihere provided a letter to the ASB Community Trust offering financial support without authority of Waipareira Trust
This allegation has been proven to be absolutely false.
Nature of the $195,000 departure package
It was, of course, also alleged that John Tamihere accepted a $195,000 ‘golden handshake’ when he had previously said he would not accept it. This was not strictly a matter that Mr White was asked to consider, but the Report does make some relevant comments:
The payment was not a ‘golden handshake’ of the type that Labour campaigned against in the 1999 election
The $195,000 amount included some salary and some unpaid bonuses for previous years. It was not all an ex gratia payment, and not all of the $195,000 was paid.
Mr Tamihere was not involved in the decision to make the payment and did not apply any pressure on the Trust for the payment to be paid.
Paragraph 4.6 & 4.52