BIG NEWS

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Couch Trust was not formed when Peters declared his donation to the Speaker.


With reference to this, Kiwiblog readers have been doing some investigation. Here is the application for the Susan Couch - Crime Victims Charitable Trust. It was only signed on the 15th of August and registered as a Trust on 10 September. But that was after Winston Peters announced the donations, and after he told Speaker Margaret Wilson who the donations were going to.

Is this another Spencer Trust - set up for a large NZ First donation? Did Wilson keep the list of beneficiaries private because she knew that no application had been accepted by the Companies Office for the Couch Trust at the time. She would know that money can be put aside for a trust awaiting to be registered - but more importantly, this money could not be returned by the trustees at the time as they were not formally trustees. Was Wilson aware that the trustees were to be Peters' lawyers?

Two of the three Trustees are Winston’s personal lawyers – his solicitor and his barrister! Garth McVicar from the Sensible Sentencing Trust actually found Brian Henry and introduced him to Susan Couch to help her sue the crown although he was not aware he was Peters' lawyer at that time.

Half the $158,000 has gone to a trust run by Peters' lawyers.There is no reference to Susan Couch in the trust deed, except being the name of the trust. Couch is not listed as the Patron or as a beneficiary (charitable trusts don't have beneficiaries), and the three Trustees have total power over the Trust. So how can it be administered on behalf of her?

Winston Peters said "We were pleased to donate the money to a trust that could assist her".

It could assist her. But will it? She's got no money yet, Winston Peters said so. Sounds like a lawyers charity setup for Peters' donation to me.

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