Monaco-based billionaire Owen Glenn today provided evidence New Zealand First leader Winston Peters solicited and thanked him for a $100,000 donation.
Glenn appeared before Parliament’s privileges committee, which is considering whether Peters broke Parliament’s rules about declaring gifts or debts over Glenn’s donation.
Peters denied knowing about the donation until July this year and said he did not ask for it.
But Glenn provided a paper trail of phone calls, emails and an independent witness to apparently contradict Peters position.
Glenn said Peters called and left a message on his telephone service on December 5, 2005.
Glenn said he returned the call and Peters asked for financial assistance.
He then checked with Labour Party president Mike Williams whether it would assist Labour, as that was his only intention.
He had thought Williams would have told his colleagues, but he did not know this for a fact.
Williams took some time to get back him and Glenn assumed that this was to make sure Labour did not object.
After this he talked to Peters.
“I called Mr Peters on 14 December 2005 to inform him that I agreed to contribute.”
Glenn provided phone records to show the call to Peters’ cellphone.
Shortly after the call, Glenn got an email from Peters’ lawyer Brian Henry who referred to the call from “my client”.
Peters said the request for money was made in a phone call by Henry at his own instigation and without his knowledge.
In the hearing today Labour MP Russell Fairbrother tried to suggest the person on the end of the phone could be Wayne Peters — Peters’ brother — saying they had similar voices.
Glenn said he had no doubt he was talking to Peters and the money was to him and that he asked for it help pay his legal costs.
“He was speaking to me as Winston Peters…I have no doubt in my mind it was him.”
NZ First MP, Dail Jones suggested it could have been Henry on the end of Peters’ cellphone.
Glenn said he had never talked to Henry.
“I do not make donations to lawyers who call me and say please send $100,000 that I can spend as I wish.”
Glenn became frustrated about continual questions on whether he sure if it was Peters he spoke to about the donation, he recognised his voice.
Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen asked whether the person talked like Peters usually did.
Glenn repeated that he was very sure.
“I knew it wasn’t you Dr Cullen…you already had your $500,000.”
Peters has long said he does not solicit donations from big business, but Glenn had a different view.
“Mr Peters is very skilled at asking for donations,” Glenn said.
The money was used to pay for Peters’ legal costs to challenge the 2005 electoral result in Tauranga, where he lost to National’s Bob Clarkson.
The Glenn donation is separate to scrutiny that donations to NZ First are undergoing from the Serious Fraud Office, police and Electoral Commission.
Glenn also told MPs that Peters had thanked him for the donation at the Karaka horse sales in 2006.
Horse trainer Paul Moroney said in an affidavit that a lunch Peters thanked him for his assistance.
Glenn said he liked Peters and had no idea about why he had acted in the way he did.
“He is a great character and he’s had a lot of original thinking and he has some unique ways of fundraising.”
Peters is to give his side of the story to the committee tomorrow evening.
Prime Minister Helen Clark said that both Glenn and Peters were honourable men and she hoped an innocent explanation could be fond.
After the hearing, Clark said she would be watching Peters evidence closely.