Kiwi rich-lister Mark Dunphy has denied claims that Alinghi boss Ernesto Bertarelli – "or any offshore interests" – is involved with the America's Cup Kiwi Home Defence campaign.
The comments from Dunphy, the man behind a last-ditch bid to stop the 37th America's Cup from going overseas, follow a Herald report on Tuesday that Bertarelli's name and that of Oracle Team USA billionaire boss Larry Ellison had been mentioned in connection with possible New York Supreme Court action and Dunphy's proposed home defence.
Dunphy, chairman of Greymouth Petroleum, said: "Claims have been made by Grant Dalton about Kiwi Home Defence and our proposal and motives in offering financial backing and support to keep the America's Cup defence in 2024 in Auckland. These claims are false.
"The Kiwi Home Defence team and Mark Dunphy are not working with, or on behalf of, any offshore interests. The Squadron and Team New Zealand are aware of this. Any assertion to the contrary is completely untrue."
Kiwi Home Defence and prospective donors were simply a group of "patriotic New Zealanders seeking nothing more nor less than to help the Squadron and Team New Zealand with the funding to ensure the successful home defence of the America's Cup in 2024.
"And of course, we want our team to win the Cup match and go on to win again and again. We are open, we are transparent and we are positive that our team can do this. Like you, we are New Zealanders who feel passionately about our team and our celebration of the next Cup regatta in Tāmaki Makaurau."
As reported by the Herald, the names of Bertarelli, whose Swiss syndicate is understood to be keen on a Cup return, and Ellison are being mentioned as potential backers of court action in the New York Supreme Court and of the home defence fund.
Dunphy says: "None of our prospective donors have any interests which in any way conflict with Team New Zealand successfully defending the America's Cup. We confirm that we would never countenance funding from a challenger team or any party whose interests conflict with New Zealand's interests, and those of the Squadron or TNZ."
His statement does not, however, respond specifically to Dalton's query about court action in New York contained in a Team NZ email to Dunphy.
"We have been made aware that an approach has been made to NYYC to investigate their interest in taking action in the New York Supreme Court to 'disqualify' the Royal Yacht Squadron Racing as the Challenger of Record and install NYYC and that "Team Dunphy" has had communications regarding this with Ernesto Bertarelli and/or Larry Ellison either direct or via intermediaries," Dalton's email read. "We have been informed that NYYC has no appetite for such action."
Team NZ chief executive Dalton has previously claimed that to put on a credible defence of the Cup it needs to be held overseas. Dalton last week delayed announcing the venue for 2024, saying the process had thrown up "three compelling and professional international proposals".
In response, Dunphy offered to provide short-term funding to Team NZ of up to $5m while a deal to keep the next regatta in New Zealand is thrashed out. He has reportedly promised to put up $20 million of his own money - but a $40m shortfall may still need government cash.
In his statement on Tuesday, Dunphy says he is expecting to meet the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Team NZ "in the next day or so ... to progress our proposal towards a happy conclusion".
"We have written on four occasions now seeking this meeting," Dunphy said.
"We remain at the dock waiting for our call."
Team NZ told the Herald it had been requesting meetings with Dunphy regarding his proposal since July 15.
"We repeatedly requested meetings on multiple occasions with him in the subsequent two months until we finally heard from him on September 14th. So, it is a bit rich of Mr Dunphy to now be talking about asking for meetings," it said.
"Despite Mr Dunphy's press release, the clear and fundamental questions we have presented to him remain directly unanswered. Emirates Team New Zealand has been directly briefed on a significant conversation that Mr Dunphy has had that gave rise to these specific questions."