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Key’s lies continue – what’s next?

23 September 2008 Media Statement

Key’s lies continue – what’s next?

John Key continued to lie last night as he attempted to explain away hard evidence that he had a major, undisclosed conflict of interest in Tranz Rail, Finance Minister Michael Cullen said.

It was revealed yesterday that Mr Key had 100,000 shares in Tranz Rail in 2002-2003 – a full 70,000 more than he had previously disclosed. 50,000 of these shares were purchased in Mr Key’s own name while he was an MP and after he started seeking commercial information and commenting publicly in Parliament.

When confronted with the facts last night, Mr Key continued to lie before finally conceding that he had in fact misled the public.

“John Key lied because he knew he had something to hide,” Dr Cullen said. “And then under pressure last night he just kept on lying.”

In a defensive, misleading press statement he continued to imply it was only his family trust that held shares. He even tried to create the impression that shares were bouncing around outside his control, saying his level of shareholdings ‘varied’ at different times.

“Yes, Mr Key, they did vary – because you were actively buying and selling them.

“In one eight week period Mr Key asked written and oral questions in Parliament, lodged an OIA request to me, bought 50,000 shares in his own name, met with Rail America, complained to the Ombudsmen about his OIA, and then sold his personal holdings nearly doubling his money in the process.

“We know Mr Key’s claim that he sold the shares because he wanted to publicly speak out on rail is proved a lie by the facts. He was speaking out through his newsletter, he was taking meetings with bidders for the rail system, and trying to get me to release commercial information to him.

“No aspect of Mr Key’s story can now be trusted. He has lied in July to reporters and the public and he did it again last night. He needs to produce any correspondence he had with his broker during 2002 and 2003 at the very least.

“And he also needs to give us the real story about why he sold the shares. He should tell the truth now to save himself at least some embarrassment when the real story emerges.”

Attached: Timeline of Key’s Tranz Rail share conflict
Contacts: Jason Knauf 021 226 9869 or Chris Ritchie 04 471 9412

Timeline of Key’s Tranz Rail share conflict (italics denote new information since timeline was first issued in July)

15 February 2002

Through his family trust John Key buys 30,000 shares in Tranz Rail, owners of New Zealand’s rail system (dates for share purchases reflect appearance in register)

19 February 2002 –

Family Trust purchases an additional 20,000 Tranz Rail shares

July 2002 –

John Key elected to Parliament

30 and 31 October 2002 –

Key asks series of Parliamentary Questions relating to Tranz Rail and the future of the rail track. Ministers reply to questions. His shareholding interest is not disclosed.

9 April 2003 –

In Parliament at Question Time, Key asks detailed question of Finance Minister seeking information about ‘secret meetings’ between the government and Tranz Rail. His shareholding interest is not disclosed.

14 April 2003 –

Key asks Written Parliamentary Questions to Finance Minister seeking dates and details of government meetings with Tranz Rail

23 April 2003 –

Key writes to Finance Minister seeking copies of minutes from government meetings with Tranz Rail. Request declined on commercial secrecy grounds.

7 May 2003 –

John Key purchases an additional 50,000 Tranz Rail shares, this time in his own name
20 May 2003 –

In his Parliamentary role as Associate Transport Spokesman Key meets with Rail America to discuss their views on Tranz Rail. Shareholding not disclosed.

27 May 2003 –

Key complains to Ombudsmen Anand Satyanand over Cullen’s refusal to release commercial information on Tranz Rail

10 June 2003 –

John Key sells the 50,000 Tranz Rail shares he purchased in his own name

11 June 2003 –

John Key ‘intensely’ questions (Key’s own words) Finance Minister Michael Cullen on Tranz Rail issue. Cullen expresses his view that Tranz Rail is carrying hundreds of millions worth of liabilities.

13 June 2003 –

John Key sells the 50,000 Tranz Rail shares purchased through his family trust


18 June 2003 –

Key attacks government over Tranz Rail and plans to buy back the track. Recent shareholding interest is not disclosed.

16 October 2003 –

Key raises Tranz Rail in what appeared at the time to be an apparent hypothetical reference in the debate over Pecuniary Interests Legislation:

It might be a bit uncomfortable, but if I am a shareholder of Tranz Rail and I want to get up in this House and start talking about that company, then my shareholding is relevant.

ENDS

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