Friday, 29 November 2019

The Whiff of Corruption On Its Way To Becoming a Stench

A Wine Box, a Deep Throat and a Dumpster

The trail that led to the NZ First donations scandal

[The following article appeared in Stuff, November 24, 2019]

Matt Shand

The winebox containing NZ First Foundation documents was next to a dumpster filled with used nappies from a nearby daycare. Or, at least it was supposed to be. There were no boxes in sight. No other options. Time to dig through.

For the past six hours "Deep Throat" figures had been sending me directions from random phone numbers to where the documents could be found. The information had already been uncovered, people wanted to talk, but hard evidence - the documentation - was key.

For the past few hours calls had come in from random numbers giving locations with little context. "The Square Hamilton," the voice would say and hang up. Then call back with another suburb or landmark. After walking around making many people suspicious of a creeper another call arrives. "The shop on (redacted) street. Another call. Another suburb. "Dumpster. Closed lid. Go now". Having never spoken to these people before it was all on good faith.

There were two dumpsters that matched.
Neither in line of sight of each other. Left or right. Right was chosen. Wrong choice. Random callers on the phone should learn to be more specific. "Deep Throat" had turned into "sore throat" as there was nothing there. No wine box. Just a dumpster full of nappies.

Before concluding it was the greatest prank ever pulled there was one more check to make. The dumpster was near a preschool. Did they happen to see a box of papers dumped there? They had. It seems they had retrieved it for use as scrap paper for the kids. With a bit of fast talking the wine box was finally secure. . . .  It should not be this hard to find out who donated to a political party in New Zealand. . . .

Calling the Electoral Commission for some clarity, this indeed, appeared to be a smoking gun. . . .

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