Glenn had big plans in Monaco

By Simon Cunliffe

Controversial expat billionaire Owen Glenn says he would have run international rugby, netball and beach volleyball competitions if he had become New Zealand's honorary consul in Monaco.

Speaking from his yacht in California, the 68-year-old political donor and philanthropist said he had planned to host and pay for a range of sporting events and trade promotions.

Mr Glenn said last month that he was likely to take up the post if Foreign Minister Winston Peters approved it. But the Government quickly distanced itself from the idea and Mr Peters denied the offer had ever been made.

The Government had already been embarrassed by Mr Glenn's claim that Prime Minister Helen Clark offered him a job as Transport Minister in her Cabinet.

Then it emerged that he had given the Labour Party a $100,000 interest-free loan, even though party president Mike Williams denied Mr Glenn had made any donations since the 2005 election.

Mr Glenn contacted the Otago Daily Times after it ran a critical opinion piece about him, headlined "Owen who? Famous for what?", which he said had him laughing out loud. He said that he had not had one question from the media on what his plans might have been were he to have become honorary consul in Monaco.

His Monaco sports competitions were to have included an international rugby tournament, as well as netball and beach volleyball, featuring New Zealand teams. In addition he planned to hold an event centred on New Zealand goods and services at the Royal Monaco Yacht Club, of which he is a member.

The rugby tournament would have had Prince Albert of Monaco as patron and included 10 European sides, a Prince Albert selection and a New Zealand invitation team to be selected by Mr Glenn.

This tournament, and the netball/beach volleyball, would have been centrepieces for exhibitions of New Zealand goods and services, and would have been supported by Mr Glenn.

"It's time we stood straight and broad-shouldered in all aspects of trade promotion," he said.

Mr Glenn emigrated to New Zealand from India as a child in 1952. He was educated in Auckland and got his start in the logistics business.

Despite living overseas he said he supported New Zealand ventures because "it is my adopted country and my heritage".

Mr Glenn said although he was "saddened" by some aspects of the controversy surrounding his recent visit, it would not affect his attitude to New Zealand. "Thankfully, not at all."

- NZ Herald

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