John Key – ’91 SFO statement or working with Andrew Krieger: they can’t both be right

Hootens text re Sabin Keys knowledge2

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?”

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