Commission: No record of Sir Bob's donation to NZ First

The Electoral Commission says it has no record of a donation made to New Zealand First by businessman Sir Robert Jones.

Sir Robert says he made a $25,000 donation to the party via the Spencer Trust, before the 2005 election.

The Electoral Commission has checked its records and says there is no donation from either the trust or Sir Robert marked against the party or any of New Zealand First's candidates.

New Zealand First deputy leader Peter Brown denies any knowledge of the donation from Sir Robert.

"I don't know anything about the Spencer Trust or the money.

"New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is due to address the issue when he returns to the country tomorrow.

Sir Bob Jones today confirmed he made a number of donations.

He told Radio New Zealand he made a $25,000 donation to the party for the last election (2005).

He has now written to NZ First president Dail Jones to confirm where the money went.

Mr Peters, the leader of NZ First and Foreign Minister, is facing the possibility of an inquiry into the $100,000 he received from Monaco-based expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn.

Donations were also alleged to have been received from the Vela family's fishing and thoroughbred companies between 1999 and 2003 totalling $150,000 but made out for amounts under $10,000 to avoid declaration rules.

Mr Peters is Minister of Racing.

Sir Robert also said today that he had made large contributions to NZ First in the 1990s when the party was being established.

"I'm not worried about the $25,000, that's not a lot. I'm worried about the other $150,000 he took off me in the early days," he said.

"I've always played my role as a rich man in supporting the political parties and I've never asked for anything back.

"The only thing I've asked of politicians is, you know, I've had comment on policy matters.

"You could imagine asking Muldoon for something - he would have hit you," he said.

He did not know Mr Peters very well and the last time he saw him was two years ago in Auckland.

Sir Bob said he hated NZ First's attacks on Asians but the last time he saw Mr Peters "a lot of drinking went on" and Sir Bob begrudgingly gave $25,000.

Sir Bob said the cheque was written out by one of his staff members to Spencer Trust.

There had been payments of $50,000 "here or there" to other parties, Sir Bob said.

Wealthy people and corporations were "hit up" by all the political parties and also made unsolicited donations, he said.

"I've never been approached by the Greens and Maori Party, I must confess," Sir Bob said.

He did not like the thesis of the Maori Party and wouldn't have given them money but asked if he would give to the Greens he said: "I probably would, but I don't want to say that".

Prime Minister Helen Clark, who is being forced to defend Mr Peters against National Party attacks, said yesterday Mr Peters would not have to pay back the $100,000 from Mr Glenn.

Under Cabinet rules it is up to the prime minister whether ministers can keep gifts of more than $500.

Miss Clark said even if the money was declared as a gift, the Cabinet Office believed he could keep it because it had been used to finance the Tauranga electoral petition in 2006.

The money from Mr Glenn went into a fund run by lawyer Brian Henry, and Mr Peters said the lawyer did not tell him about it until last Friday night.

Mr Peters has told NZPA the fund, as it has often been referred to in Parliament, was a solicitors' account controlled by the Law Society.

"It is not a trust fund in that respect. It is purely used to pay legal costs," he said.

- NZPA, NEWSTAKL ZB

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