Was Win­ston’s ac­cuser an in­side job?

Auckland City Harbour News - - News -

Win­ston Peters might not need to look very far for the whis­tle-blower who caused him so much strife.

He has thrashed about whip­ping up emo­tional storms over what he de­scribes as in­trigues to de­stroy him and his party.

But ev­i­dence sug­gests an in­side job from his own New Zealand First by some­one who drew from se­cret party files.

That seems a log­i­cal source of a se­ries of highly sig­nif­i­cant let­ters sent to me­dia in­ves­ti­ga­tors over sev­eral months. Some let­ters were long and ver­bose but they were also full of spe­cific, dam­ag­ing de­tail and pre­cise fig­ures.

One of the most im­por­tant was backed by a copy of a Vela Broth­ers’ do­na­tion cheque. Spe­cially writ­ten for $9995, it could and did slip past the le­gal obli­ga­tion to de­clare do­na­tions of $10,000 or more. As did oth­ers from the same source.

That ev­i­dence of a spe­cially crafted and se­cret do­na­tion process looked out at Win­ston Peters, his crit­ics and sup­port­ers, from the front page of Welling­ton’s Do­min­ion Post as long ago as July 22.

That cheque re­but­ted Win­ston Peters’ de­nials that Vela cor­po­rate money had changed hands – and in this sleight-of-hand, drip-feed fash­ion.

The cheque and other de­tails in those anony­mous let­ters were part of a two-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the pa­per’s Phil Kitchen, New Zealand’s most de­ter­mined and skilled in­ves­ti­ga­tor of his gen­er­a­tion. Ask Louise Ni­cholas and var­i­ous for­mer po­lice­men about him if you have any doubts.

The par­lia­men­tary priv­i­leges com­mit­tee hear­ing and cur­rent in­ves­ti­ga­tions by both the Se­ri­ous Fraud Of­fice and po­lice – plus wide­spread and prob­ing cover by other me­dia – have fol­lowed.

It’s been the sort of detailed, com­plex and lon­grun­ning in­quiry that Phil Kitchen thrives on. And he still hasn’t re­vealed all that he knows. Not by a long way.

The Vela cheque copy ar­rived for him in the mail and out of the blue around the same time that de­tails of Sir Robert Jones’ $25,000 do­na­tion to New Zealand First made head­lines.

Sir Robert was clearly very an­gry and cu­ri­ous that the cheque, in­tended for the party, went in­stead to the pre­vi­ously un­known and now in­fa­mous Spencer Trust.

He wanted to know why a straight-for­ward do­na­tion was side­tracked into a top-se­cret drawer of the party’s ac­count­ing sys­tem that he was un­aware of. As, it seemed, were se­nior mem­bers of New Zealand First as well.

And that was be­fore the Glenn real life ex­changes – the “You did” “I didn’t” “Henry did” – se­rial got un­der way.

So first clue: If you seek that anony­mous let­ter writer – as no doubt Win­ston Peters does – look for an in­sider from a very small and se­lect group with ac­cess and in­sights into records of New Zealand First’s mys­te­ri­ous cash and ac­count­ing sys­tem.

And one who knows the names of its wealthy back­ers who’d much pre­fer their po­lit­i­cal hand­outs were hid­den.

That process was so se­cre­tive that Mr Peters seemed at times to deny knowl­edge of it. Var­i­ous trea­sur­ers weren’t in the loop ei­ther. Even the then pres­i­dent Dail Jones seemed clearly un­sure about the trust, var­i­ous gifts, where the money came from and why.

Sec­ond clue: The anony­mous writer has more than av­er­age knowl­edge of clas­sic Greek lit­er­a­ture. The alias on the let­ters was “Eu­menides”, a god­dess of an­cient mythol­ogy.

Third clue: That choice of pen name seems an aimed shot too. Eu­menides is also linked, per­haps sig­nif­i­cantly, with The Fu­ries who, En­cy­clopae­dia Bri­tan­nica tells me, were “venge­ful deities” who were pretty tough, sin­gle­but ap­par­ently op­er­ated in what they saw as the ul­ti­mate pub­lic good.

All th­ese de­tails – which I know read at times like the plot of a not-so-bril­liant pulp thriller – don’t bear out the repet­i­tive Peters’ the­ory that he’s a vic­tim of long-run­ning dirty deal­ings by cor­po­rates seek­ing re­venge for his role in the Winebox rev­e­la­tions of strange be­hav­iour in high places and the Cook Is­lands.

Nor does it sup­port a the­ory that some Se­ri­ous Fraud Of­fice hatchet man – who also bizarrely ap­par­ently has am­a­teur in­ter­ests in Greek mythol­ogy – is pay­ing Peters back for past bit­ter crit­i­cism of the SFO.

Fourth clue: If my in­sider the­ory is cor­rect, the real name of Eu­menides – the in­former/traitor/pub­lic bene­fac­tor de­pend­ing on your view­point – is al­most cer­tainly on cur­rent or past New Zealand First mem­ber­ship lists, in par­tic­u­lar its most trusted of­fice bear­ers and se­lect high-level de­ci­sions-

Fifth clue: The let­ter writer doesn’t see them­selves as driven by a grudge or postWinebox trauma, but, like the an­cient Fu­ries, by is­sues of the pub­lic good.

PS: When En­cy­clopae­dia Bri­tan­nica took up my queries about Eu­menides, it also warmed to the chase. It pointed to Aeschy­lus, a play­wright in his prime around 458BC when he used the Fu­ries theme in an adults-only script in­volv­ing blood curses and pur­suits of re­venge.

Ap­par­ently, leg­end has it that one of his pro­duc­tions was rather wor­ry­ingly in­ter­rupted by seats in the gallery col­laps­ing.

Blood curses and pur­suits of re­venge! And col­laps­ing seats! That all sounds fright­en­ingly fa­mil­iar.

To con­tact Pat Booth email: off­pat@snl.co.nz. All replies are open for pub­li­ca­tion un­less marked Not For Pub­li­ca­tion.

The ev­i­dence: The Eu­menides cheque in the mail.

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