Māori Party donations referred to Serious Fraud Office

The police have referred the issue of donations to the Māori Party to the Serious Fraud Office for further investigation, they said tonight.

The Electoral Commission had previously referred the matter of party donations totalling $320,000 to the police: $158,000 from former party leader John Tamihere; $120,000 from Aotearoa Te Kahu; and $50,000 from the National Urban Māori Authority.

In its statement, the Electoral Commission said it was forwarding the matter to the police “for further investigation relating to failure to declare donations or aggregated donations over $30,000 made to the Māori Party within 10 working days.”

The lateness of declaring donations would not be the concern of the Serious Fraud Office.

Māori Party president Che Wilson told RNZ that a mistake had been made and it lay with party volunteers who had been “learning the ropes”.

As soon as the party had found out about the error, it had made contact with the Electoral Commission.

The National Urban Māori Authority is a registered charity which runs health and social services and is part-funded by a Whanau Ora commissioning agency.

But Whanu Ora Minister Peeni Henare said he was confident no taxpayer money had been involved.

Investigations relating to donations to two political parties, the National Party and the New Zealand First Party, have resulted in charges being laid against individuals but the cases have not yet been heard in court.

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