Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

Read Post

Legal Beagle: Because it is a big deal

70 Responses

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Still, saying that he's spent five dollars would stretch the definition of "spending" somewhat.

    Ahh, but there is no definition of spending.

    We have section 4:

    The Crown ... must not incur expenses ... except as expressly authorised by an appropriation, or other authority, by or under an Act.

    And s 76(2)(d):

    Every person commits an offence against this Act who—
    (d) Does any act for the purpose of procuring for that person or for any other person or organisation—
    (i) The improper payment of any public money or trust money; or
    (ii) The improper use of any public financial resource.

    It will still involve the incurring of unauthorised expenditure, but the question of criminal liability will turn on "payment", or "use". But I quite like the argument.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • FletcherB,

    (ii) The improper use of any public financial resource.

    Thankyou Graeme... I think that trumps my point...

    Money wasnt spent but a financial resource was used...

    West Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 798 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I borrow five dollars from you, with the proviso that if I haven't paid it back within a month, Craig will pay you back.

    I'm not disputing that as long as it gets paid back the workplace doesn't end up coughing up.

    Using the fact that it's on credit to claim that money hasn't been 'spent' seems to be trying to worm around the actual issue. It's employees using employer credit for personal expenses. I can't imagine the people who wrote the laws meant to exclude that by using the word 'spend'. Spend is about the money going from the purchaser (in this case actually the employer via their credit card) to the supplier of the good or service.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6217 posts Report Reply

  • Martin Lindberg,

    Still, saying that he's spent five dollars would stretch the definition of "spending" somewhat.
    Ahh, but there is no definition of spending.

    So now it's all about semantics and the finer points of book-keeping? That's good, because I don't really care about that.

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 797 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    So now it's all about semantics and the finer points of book-keeping? That's good, because I don't really care about that.

    Not at all - my point was that the semantic argument others were tempted to use - that this mightn't fall within a technical definition of spending, so wasn't illegal - was bound to fail, not least because the word "spending" is irrelevant.

    (Among other things, I'm sure) it is about the following:

    Were ministers allowed to use a ministerial credit card in the manner in which they did?

    If not, was that use improper?

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • AllanM,

    As an IT person I feel that our team has somehow let them down if it is such a big trial for them to process a statement with clearly identified personal items.

    Speaking as an accountant, it is not the IT person that has let us down, it is the person holding the card that has let us down. What is so difficult about: "Hmm, that's my work card, and that's my own card. Those flowers are a gift for my partner from me, so I'll use my card, not the company card."

    You're right, it is not terribly difficult to process personal expenditure, but it does involve many transactions - processing the credit card bill in Accounts Payable, then either deducting the funds from payroll (because the employment contract allows us to do that), or processing the credit from the bank statement. Then someone has to reconcile all that. And that is whether or not it is a $19.95 movie or a set of golf clubs. So, the card holders convenience at using company funds comes at the inconvenience of the accounts and possibly payroll staff.

    Auck • Since Nov 2009 • 10 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    You're missing the point of ... the PFA: it is that public expenditure must be authorised ... not that private expenditure is prohibited.

    I quote this bit, from the rules governing the use of the public money from Vote Ministerial Services:

    Operational resources are not provided and may not be used-
    (a) for personal or private benefit

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3011 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    You know what I've learned from this thread? Should have worked harder at school and gone into tax law. :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • Patrick Xavier,

    I quote this bit....

    Quite right: good governance, not PFA illegality.

    Since Nov 2006 • 38 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    One strong argument against prosecution is the two-year statute of limitations. We're fewer than five months away from National's second anniversary, meaning that the vast majority of liability on the part of former Labour ministers is already under the carpet. By the time an investigation is carried out, evidence procured, opinions sought from Crown Law, etc, all but the very closing minutes of the Fourth Labour Government will be out of reach. Given that this behaviour crosses party lines, is the public interest actually served by prosecutions based on technicalities and, by dint of the legislation's wording, able to be directed at only the ruling party?

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3913 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Given that this behaviour crosses party lines, is the public interest actually served by prosecutions based on technicalities and, by dint of the legislation's wording, able to be directed at only the ruling party?

    In a perverse way, I think it would not only be in the public interest but a counter-intuitive win for National. At the risk of sounding rather sanctimonious I'd say: "You're sitting on the Treasury benches, and talked a hell of a good game about transparency, accountability and setting new higher standards in government. Well, man up and walk the talk, bitches."

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Craig, I don't equate the public interests with National's interests. Especially given that quite a large swathe of the public don't consider National to be acting in the public's best interests.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3913 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Um, he's arguing your side of that one I think, Matthew.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16838 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Craig, I don't equate the public interests with National's interests.

    And neither do I, but I think it would actually be in the public interest if we saw a Government more interested in accepting accountability for their (alleged) misdeeds even if their every political instinct screamed "hell no". And if a little ovarian fortitude had some electoral sugar on top, well I wouldn't grudge it.

    Let me put it this way: I got rubbished for saying both Labour and National would have been better off if the Police had prosecuted both parties for their alleged breeches of electoral finance law. I don't think any sane person would argue "the public interest" was better served by the ugliness that followed than two political parties getting their day in an open court.

    ETA:

    Um, he's arguing your side of that one I think, Matthew.

    What Sacha said... :)

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12052 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    My bad.
    And, really, I wouldn't want to bet a steak dinner on the likelihood of National actually showing some leadership on the matter. Might be a different story if Shane Jones was in serious danger of a prosecution in the same dock as Tim Grosser, though.

    The pit from whence crawl… • Since Mar 2007 • 3913 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    (A bit late cos I've been on holiday)

    When I've been made to have a company credit card, the deal has typically been no personal use, but also that the user of the card is jointly liable with the business to pay the bill.

    I also understand that companies (and presumably NZG, unless we're being stiffed by Westpac) aren't charged interest during the payment period, so provided the bill is settled by the user on time, there's no actual cost.

    So it's hard to see how there's a material unauthorised expenditure involved.

    Still, I wouldn't take one of these cards from an employer unless (as has happened) I was obliged to do that rather than using my own facilities and filing a considered expense claim. You would have thought that a sensible minister would have done the same thing (unless Ministerial Services have a no-reimbursements rule).

    A sensible PM (and I'm surprised at Helen) would have insisted that no Minister got a card *and* that all expenses were run past a party/PMs office checker before being officially filed.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    A sensible PM (and I'm surprised at Helen) would have insisted that no Minister got a card *and* that all expenses were run past a party/PMs office checker before being officially filed.

    You've got to remember that some of these bills run into the thousands, they're paying for ministers and often one or more staff to have meals, taxis, sometimes accommodation, also sometimes they're used to entertain groups.

    Ministers shouldn't have to have $30K limits on their personal cards for a fortnight trip overseas and then ask the taxpayer to reimburse. There's nothing wrong with each minister having a card, it's what they use it for and how they account for it that is of issue.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6217 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Ministers shouldn't have to have $30K limits on their personal cards for a fortnight trip overseas

    I ran up a bill of that level when I was a mere computer consultant and got sent on a 5 week stint in New York, accompanied by a credit cardless colleague.

    Charge cards (like Amex) have no fixed limit, and it's reasonable (IMHO) for an employer to wear the steep annual charges.

    It's just a matter of staying squeaky clean, and making the call on whether to give the tab to the taxpayer at 10am in Wellington, not at 3am in a Bangkok bar.

    (Anyway, Key could give all his ministers platinum Amex cards on his personal account and not even notice).

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4480 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Finlay Macdonald has a view on the past week in Parliament."Where were the dancing girls and the class A drugs."

    cabinet minister forgets to feed cat, perhaps?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6320 posts Report Reply

  • Just thinking,

    Allan Hubbard, bank roller of csnty irrigation and Christchurch Developer Dave Henderson is under investigation by SFO.

    It might be coincidence but I saw a rural accountant with a black eye, it is ski season, but I smiled. I know that means I'm petty.

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/industries/3832664/SFO-probes-Canterbury-millionaire-Allan-Hubbard

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1147 posts Report Reply

First ←Older Page 1 2 3 Newer→ Last

Post your response…

Please sign in using your Public Address credentials…

Login

You may also create an account or retrieve your password.