Resignation Watch: calls are growing for New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to resign after the ex currency trader is caught on CCTV playing an illegal game of Elevator Bingo in Beehive lift…more at six.
Calls are growing for New Zealand Prime Minister John Key to resign after footage surfaced of him participating in an illegal game of ‘Elevator Bingo’.
His party’s National government legalised elevator gambling in all government buildings last year at the request of casino operator Skycity who were seeking an outside of the box solution to cover a funding shortfall for their iconic #SkySore Convention Centre in Auckland. While elevator gambling was perfectly legal in all other government buildings, it still remains a criminal activity in the lifts of the nation’s Parliament and the footage has many questioning the Prime Minister’s judgement.
He had earlier rubbished Opposition claims his office was moving to legalise gambling in the Beehive’s lifts after it was revealed last minute amendments were made in secrecy to Skycity’s 200 year elevator gambling license last week, including provision for bingo balls to be installed in any lift at any Government Ministers’ request. When confronted by journalists this afternoon, the Prime Minister said he could not recall ever been in an elevator and he was “comfortable with that” but would consult with his Office stapler to be sure.
Last week the Prime Minister refused to be drawn on rumours of the secret amendments saying they were ‘operational matters’ but maintained if there were any balls, hypothetically the balls would be an eyesore only if cheaper smaller balls were installed, especially when all economic signs pointed to the Beehive needing bigger balls when gambling with a casino operator such as Skycity.
Anti-gambling opponents angered by the latest revelations say access to the Beehive would be lucrative for Skycity, especially if the Government approves the casino’s bid to legalise ‘Lave Va Tory Craps’ too.
Meanwhile the country’s Attonery General Chris Finlayson denied his elevator bingo hosting gig was a violation of his employment conditions, citing a recent change to Speaker’s ruling ‘Eggs Eleven’ which made it a requirement for Ministers of the Crown to moonlight as Beehivecity ‘Elevator Bingo’ hosts at least three nights a week.
Re-enactment only: Beehive CCTV
Speaker David Carter confirmed the rule change, saying he was having Parliament do what it could to assist the Government with it’s surplus, and to a lesser degree the struggling Prime Minister whose office was feeling the pinch after Parliament ruled Prime Ministers were to supply their own Prime Ministerial crayons for the entirety of their term; and with at least three potential Key Prime Ministers inhabiting the office at any given time the stationary expenses on the 9th floor were said to be skyrocketing.
As well as having Crown Ministers’ tithe their bingo commissions to the Prime Minister’s office, Parliament visitors were being asked to bring donations of non-toxic textures and PM friendly pastels with their next visit.
“We’ve all gotta do our bit,” the Speaker said, “if they could play bingo while they’re here, that would be great too.”
In other news – Minister of Finance Bill English has been cleared of any wrong doing in the elevator, with investigators concluding the state of the New Zealand economy was enough wrong doing for any man.
First use of #SkySore tag in print: @malosilima – Dave Armstrong’s ‘Odds stacked against SkyCity’ – bit.ly/SkySore
I wrote yesterday about how well documented it is that Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key worked with currency trader Andrew Krieger while they were both at Bankers Trust in the mid 1980s.
A week before the 2008 election, a 1991 statement Key gave to the then new established Serious Fraud Office surfaced. In it we learned Key had told investigators he could recall a date crucial to the investigation because it was the same date as his last day with Elders Merchant Finance – he was going to Auckland to take a position with Bankers Trust – this is supposedly the time when he started with Krieger. Except this timeframe is an impossibility. Krieger resigned from Bankers Trust some six months before the date in question.
Key has either lied to media when they were doing background bios on him in 2008 about working with Krieger, or, and more likely, Key conspired to lie to the Serious Fraud Office to assist his ex Elders colleague Paul Richards who was facing fraud charges.
Gavin Walker who was Key’s boss at Bankers Trust, talked at length with media in 2008 about the relationship Key had with Krieger, going so far as to say managing that relationship was more or less in Key’s job description. Walker is now Chair of the Board of Guardians of the New Zealand Super Fund. Did he lie to media about Key working with Krieger? Because lying and misleading is the implication if Key maintains his SFO statement is true and correct – as he did in the lead up to the 2008 General Election.
As for Richards, he soon followed Key to Bankers Trust and may or may not have been still working there when he was first interviewed by the SFO in November 1990. If he was, did he and Key conspire to the mislead the SFO investigators? Constructing an elaborate back story of a ‘farewell lunch’ that never took place? The date of this lunch conflicted with the recollections of Richard’s co-accused. Richards is now head of UBS Head of FX Distribution in the US. He is a regular finance and foreign exchange commentator on television and news in the US and is a current and past (2012) member of the Foreign Exchange Committee of the New York Federal Reserve.
For the record, the investigation all those years ago was into the failed high flying company Equiticorp. Over 55,000 shareholders were defrauded of over $400 million, of which the would be New Zealand PM was willing to lie to investigators to protect his friend and colleague who had helped commit $67 million of that fraud.
A week before the 2008 election Key was asked about his statement and assured Radio New Zealand listens he did not lie to the SFO, maintaining his statement was 100% true and correct and claimed any talk of the contrary was nothing but left wing smears, attack politics from desperate opponents.
Today opposition leader, Labour’s Andrew Little called Key a liar over the PM’s knowledge of ex-Northland MP Mike Sabin’s police investigation – add another lie to Key’s growing pile of untruths and obfuscations but I think Key’s 1991 SFO statement may be his longest standing and most damaging lie yet.
This Twitter tweet from right-wing political commentator Matthew Hooton caught my eye yesterday. Not because the Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key may be found out in another lie, rather it caught my eye because I’ve had similar “They can’t both be right” moments of clarity about our dear leader.
The most serious one involves a statement he gave to the Serious Fraud Office in May 1991 which surfaced in the lead up to the 2008 general election, and the reports of him working with the infamous currency trader Andrew Krieger.
In both the New Zealand Herald and the Sunday Star Times in 2008, and as recently as last year in John Roughan’s book ‘John Key: Portrait of a Prime Minister’, we were told Key worked with the infamous Krieger when they were both traders at Bankers Trust – Key in the Auckland branch and Krieger with the parent branch in New York. Key himself said he will never forget their first phone call, saying Krieger asked him about New Zealand’s GDP and its monetary supply.
Key’s boss at the time Gavin Walker has said it was basically Key’s job description to manage the relationship with Krieger, giving Key names of top clients on his first day with the firm, one of which was the New Yorker. Key’s relationship with Krieger and other traders at Bankers Trust in New York were credited with turning the New Zealand branch into the number one forex trading room in the country.
It is this well documented working relationship between the two that rips some serious holes in Key’s (and that of ex-colleague, Paul Richard’s) 1990s statements to the SFO – namely the date of a ‘lunch’, the reason for it, and indeed, if there ever was one. Richards was facing fraud charges for his part in a series of fictitious foreign exchange transactions between high flying New Zealand company Equiticorp and Australia’s Elders IXL, the trades came to be known as the ‘H-Fee’ transactions.
In November 1990 Richards told the SFO investigators he could remember a ‘lunch’ on 31 August 1988 as it was his friend and colleague (John) Key’s farewell – Key was leaving Wellington based Elders Merchant Finance for a position with Bankers Trust in Auckland. The date for the lunch was in contention as it differed by some days from the recollections of Richard’s co-accused.
In May 1991 it was Key’s turn. He corroborated Richards’s evidence and assured investigators he too could recall the lunch they had had and events during it, telling the SFO he had resigned from Elders on 24 June 1988 and was immediately put on gardening leave. The lunch with Richards was on his last day, 31 August 1988, and he was leaving for Auckland immediately to start work with Bankers Trust.
However Krieger had resigned from Bankers Trust on 23 February 1988, some six months before Key and Richard’s alleged ‘farewell’ lunch. Is Key’s well documented working relationship with Krieger merely a fabrication? Although it would be pretty hard at this stage for even the most accomplished of spin doctors to claim Key did not work with him, though I’m sure some will try.
So I once again find myself asking – because, as Hooton so succinctly put it – “they both can’t be right”….
“John Key did you (conspire to) lie to the Serious Fraud Office?”