Claire Trevett

Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Shearer's $50,000 'oversight'

Labour leader David Shearer. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Labour leader David Shearer. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Labour leader David Shearer says his failure to declare a US-based bank account with more than $50,000 in it on the MPs' Register of Pecuniary Interests was simply an oversight.

Mr Shearer yesterday asked the Registrar Dame Margaret Bazley to belatedly add the account at Chase Bank in the United States to his entry in the register, where MPs are required to list their assets, debts and gifts.

Chase Bank had a branch in the UN Building in New York and he used the account for his salary while he worked with the United Nations.

Mr Shearer would not reveal how much was in the account, but MPs are required to include accounts with more than $50,000 in them.

He was in a senior role at the UN and is understood to have been in the top tiers of salary earners partly because of his work in dangerous areas, such as Iraq.

He had included his UN pension scheme in the register since becoming an MP, but Mr Shearer said he realised, while he was doing his tax paperwork recently, he had not included the bank account in the register.

Inland Revenue had known about the account, for tax purposes.

Mr Shearer's 2012 entry included interests in two trusts, a house in Avondale, his family home in Pt Chevalier, and the section in Whananaki, Northland, where he spends holidays, as well as his UN pension scheme, parliamentary super scheme and a superannuation trust. He also disclosed a term deposit and a mortgage, as well as tickets for two to six Rugby World Cup games.

Since 2005, MPs have been required to disclose all their financial interests in the register each year, including debts, assets, such as property or shares; and gifts worth more than $500. Late additions to the register because of oversights are not unusual - last year, National's Phil Heatley added a KiwiSaver account, Labour's Jacinda Ardern added tickets to a Tony Blair speaking event, and National's Chris Tremain added Rugby World Cup tickets.

However, some late entries are more controversial - last year Act leader John Banks belatedly declared a gift basket from Kim Dotcom he received while he was on holiday in Hong Kong. He had said he did not realise it was over the $500 limit.

Prime Minister John Key yesterday would not comment on Mr Shearer's omission, saying it was up to Mr Shearer. In 2008, Mr Key came under questioning about TranzRail shares his family trust had held in 2002 and 2003. Those shares were sold before the Register of Pecuniary Interests came into being in 2005.

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- NZ Herald

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