Friday, August 29, 2008

The odds are Clark will not deal with Peters today

All news reports today are Clark and Peters are going about their scheduled appointments today. They are both showing a business as usual - "Nothing to see here, move on" scenario.

Winston Peters was roused from his unavailability this morning by Sir Robert Jones calling him a liar. In a rambling and at times shambolic call to Morning Report Winston confirmed he wasn't resigning any time soon and indicated he would not be sacked after two minutes with the PM explaining things...the interview was hilarious.

There is no urgency with Clark - she's busy opening schools in Auckland. This is classic Clark - go to ground and she what tomorrow brings. Unfortunately forces are afoot, she knows not what nor how to counter.

Rumours that Senior Labour Ministers have been denigrating Owen Glenn for some weeks and Cullen's excoriation of Glenn in the House yesterday give a good lead to where this is heading - discredit and smear Owen Glenn.

This writer is now certain that Clark is at the center of the scandal.

She knew from minute one that Owen Glenn was funding Winston Peters and or NZ First.

The reason she knew is she organised it. That is becoming clear.

I am sure the Gnats know this too. That is why John Key has been so assiduous in linking Glenn to Clark and Peters.

As we have seen in the House this week John Key has carefully extracted admissions from Clark that will later destroy what limited credibility she has. His follow up interviews have been focused on painting Clark with the secret agenda and slippery monikers - these will stick more surely to her than him.

The run of play is something like this.

Clark meets Glenn at a Tourism NZ promotional dinner in Sydney in July 2004. He expresses interest in helping Labour. Clark forgets his name and asks Williams to go through the address list and figure out who Clark met at the dinner. Serendipitously Glenn emails Clark before Williams starts and re confirms his offer to help Labour. From November 2004 - March 2005, Glenn transfers $100,000 to the Labour Party on the nineth of each month - a total of $500,000.

Glenn also funded the new Business School at Auckland University to the tune of $7,500,000. For that ostensibly he receives the OMNZ.

Glenn is a wealthy and professional practitioner of the dark art of buying favourable outcomes for himself and his business interests - he sees it as a cost of business. Clark opens the door.

Once one is immensely wealthy and living in Monaco the only thing missing is invites to the Top Table - a knighthood would help credibility. Only problem Labour axed them in New Zealand - however Williams says he can do OMNZ and the price is $500K. meanwhile

Thinking further and Glenn realises he could do better - guarantee a seat at the Top Table - become New Zealand's Consul in Monaco. He asks Clark.

She hatches a plan - let's bind NZ First to us forever is her plan - we'll get them some additional funding. I'll tell Owen Glenn that it is important to Labour to have solid relations with NZ First and in any event the Foreign Minister, who appoints Consul's, is the leader of NZ First. I'll tell hime the rate for a Consulship is $100,000 - to NZ First.

Glenn grizzles for 'public' consumption but secretly is rapt - the whole thing for $600,000 plus a Business School! Sweet!

The OMNZ turns up as promised but Winston is having trouble delivering the Consulship. Questions are being asked as Winnie has always said none was necessary. Winnie has no suitable solution.

Given Top Table invites are not something one can buy locally Glenn is livid. He goes feral, completely feral.

That's when the shit started to hit the fan and has never stopped.

Clark, Cullen and Peters who have never lived in the real world are now absolutely out of their death - this will drown them all. They do not realise that businessmen like Owen Glenn are playing for keeps as they always do.

They do not understand people like Glenn cannot be blown off like speck of dust. Or, more importantly that Labour, Cullen and Clark have nothing more to offer Owen Glenn. He has taken the hint and is moving on. He not she holds the sword of damocles.

It does not take much of a google search (try "Owen Glenn") to reveal his scrapes with regulatory authorities like the Federal Maritime Comission in the US (for misdeclaration of cargoes and price fixing) and the company collapses engineered in places like the Carribean.

He is truly a trans-national operator.

By contrast John Key has had a very successful life before entering politics - he knows how people like Owen Glenn work. He understands the game.

John Key has been ten yards ahead of Clark and Cullen on this since February 2008.

Every one of the rumours and allegations regarding Owen Glenn have proved ultimately to be correct. I have posted below the very useful chronology from today's Herald. It is an interesting review.

Owen Glenn is behind all the leaks and his carefully worded letters reveal the game he is playing - Labour have not met his terms and he has been seeking retribution since they failed with the Consul gong and the appalling treatment by Mallard and Clark at the opening of the building with his name on it.

From the NZ Herald

February 15:
Expatriate businessman and Labour donor Owen Glenn claims Helen Clark tried to lure him back to New Zealand with the offer of a Cabinet job. Clark denies it.

February 18:
Owen Glenn dismisses his Cabinet comments as a joke but says he is waiting on Foreign Minister Winston Peters' approval to become NZ's Honorary Consul in Monaco.

February 19: Helen Clark confirms Winston Peters has met with Mr Glenn to discuss the honorary consul role and is considering whether is needed in the position.

February 20: New Zealand First MP Dail Jones tells the Herald his party received a mystery donation of between $10,000 and $100,000 "probably closer to $100,000" in December 2006. Owen Glenn strongly hints that he was the donor.

The money is said to be part of the $158,000 donated to and returned by the Starship Foundation, the amount the Auditor General found NZ First had unlawfully spent at the 2005 election. Asked by the Herald via his press secretary whether he knew who the donor was and whether it was Mr Glenn, Winston Peters says "there is no substance to the claims being made". Mr Peters later denies to TVNZ that the party ever received a donation from Mr Glenn.

February 21: Owen Glenn and Helen Clark open Auckland University's Business School.

February 24: Winston Peters appears to deny the mystery donation ever existed, refusing to say where it was from. When asked, Mr Peters said: "There's no question ever that any such a thing ever did happen." Asked if that meant "there was no big anonymous donation", Mr Peters said "precisely".

February 28: Mr Peters calls a media conference to deny Owen Glenn has ever given New Zealand First a donation or loan. Peters brings along a "No" sign to reinforce his message. Mr Peters says the sum mentioned by Dail Jones was a consolidation of a series of payments made to the party.

July 12: The Herald reports a private email from Owen Glenn to his PR representative in New Zealand, Steve Fisher, in which he says he did give New Zealand First a donation.

"Steve - are you saying I should deny giving a donation to NZ First?? When I did?"

Winston Peters says through a spokesman that Mr Glenn had not given the party money - "he did not" - but he refused any other comment.

July 14 Winston Peters addresses reporters at Auckland Airport before leaving for Fiji. He tells them: " Here's the deal, the editor of the New Zealand Herald and the Herald journalist Audrey Young can see New Zealand First's accounts and talk to our independent auditors but when they find nothing, then to apologise to the public and then resign."

National Leader John Key calls for Helen Clark to investigate whether Mr Peters is telling the truth.

July 16: Helen Clark says she has received assurances from Winston Peters that Owen Glenn has not donated to NZ First. She says Mr Glenn's appointment as honorary consul general in Monaco was at best "most unlikely".

July 18: Winston Peters says Owen Glenn donated $100,000 towards a legal action he mounted after the 2005 election, but denies the money was given to his party and says he only just found out about it.

July 19: Peters tells the NZ First convention he did nothing wrong in the Owen Glenn donation row and nothing illegal occurred. He says there is a difference between donating to his legal fund and donating to NZ First.

July 20: Winston Peters' lawyer Brian Henry says he asked Owen Glenn for a donation after another donor did not deliver. Helen Clark says she accepts Mr Peters' statement that he only found out about the donation from his lawyer on July 18. She says the donation to Mr Peters' legal fund did not appear to have broken any rules.

July 21: The Dominion Post reports the Vela family donated $150,000 from six different accounts over four years up to 2003 to New Zealand First but the donations were not declared by the party because they were under $10,000 and did not have to be. ACT leader Rodney Hide lodges a contempt of Parliament complaint with the Speaker over the non-disclosure of the donation.

July 23: Helen Clark says Mr Peters will not be required to pay back the $100,000 he received from Owen Glenn to pay legal expenses

"The Cabinet Office advises me that there would be no reason to require the minister to relinquish it, given the considerable public interest in the court case for which that money was paying."

July 24: Sir Robert Jones tells Radio New Zealand he made a number of donations to New Zealand First for the 2005 election including a $25,000 donation to the Spencer Trust. New Zealand First deputy leader Peter Brown denies any knowledge of the donation, which was not declared to the Electoral Commission. Sir Robert says he has written to NZ First president Dail Jones to confirm where the money went.

A spokesman for Helen Clark says she "received an assurance from Mr Peters that funding has been conducted lawfully".

July 25: Winston Peters angrily denies any wrongdoing in regards to the funding of NZ First. He says media coverage of the party's election funding are "Unsubstantiated rubbish". He says he never asked Sir Robert for money and that he was not in charge of the Spencer Trust, which is managed by his brother. Sir Robert says Mr Peters asked him for money on a night out.

July 26: At a joint media conference with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Mr Peters again refuses to answer questions on the "Bob Jones' story".

July 29: Helen Clark meets with Mr Peters so he can explain the controversy surrounding allegations of covert funding to NZ First. She says she still has cionfidence in him as Minister of Foerign Affairs et al. Mr Peters describes the whole affair as "a shameful episode of dirty politics".

July 30: The Serious Fraud Office says it will begin assessing whether an investigation into donations intended for the New Zealand First Party is warranted, following a complaint from Rodney Hide.

July 31: The Dominion Post reports it has a deposit slip showing $19,998 was deposited in one or more cheques into the party's coffers in December 1999.

Electoral Commission records for 1999 show NZ First did not declare any donations of more than $10,000, the threshold for disclosure.

August 5: The Speaker orders an investigation into allegations Winston Peters failed to declare party donations on the MPs' register of pecuniary interest. She says Parliament's privileges committee should look into the claims. Mr Peters says he welcomes the opportunity to have the matter dealt with as soon as possible.

August 6: Racing and fishing magnate Philip Vela says that he has no concerns about the donation his company had given to New Zealand First a few years ago. The privileges committee inquiry into Owen Glenn's payment of Mr Peters' legal fees begins.

Mr Peters is repeatedly challenged by Act leader Rodney Hide in Parliament to say whether he received donations from Simunovich Fisheries, after speculation of a donation from the company re-emerged in the Dominion Post newspaper.

August 7: Parliament's privileges committee sets its terms of references for its inquiry.

August 17: The privileges committee begins its first hearings in the inquiry into Owen Glenn's donation to NZ First's legal bill. Winston Peter's lawyer Brian Henry tells the committee he does not bill Mr Peters that his legal fees are "either a donation of my time or fundraised." The committee resolves to invite Owen Glenn to give evidence.

August 26:ACT leader Rodney Hide alleges New Zealand First was paid money by Simunovich Fisheries after Winston Peters had made corruption claims against it.

August 27:The privileges committee releases letters from Mr Peters and billionaire Owen Glenn. Mr Glenn says Mr Peters solicited a $100,000 donation from him and then thanked him for it in 2006. Mr Peters denies this, saying he thanked Mr Glenn in July 2008 after being told of the donation by his lawyer.

National Party leader John Key says unless Mr Peters could provide a credible explanation for the discrepancies of evidence, he would be unacceptable in a National Government.

August 28: Prime Minister Helen Clark reveals Mr Glenn had told her his version of events on February 21 but that Mr Peters had assured her that New Zealand First had not received a donation from the businessman.

The Serious Fraud Office announces it has sufficient information to launch an investigation into the fate of donations to New Zealand First.

August 29: Winston Peters describes the allegations against him as "vile, malevolent, evil and wrong". He says he will talk to Helen Clark about the matter later in the day.

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