There has been a lot of media comment about Sir Ron Brierley being picked up in Australia for possessing child pornography. He initially denied it but then confessed. He will be sentenced in August 2021.
He insists the pornography he was arrested with was all freely available and harmless. So why would he admit the crimes?
A reason for admitting crimes is to get a lower sentence for not taking up court time, and to get less publicity, assuming the police can prove the crimes anyway. If you plead not guilty, there is a huge trial with all the evidence paraded and reported in the media. If you plead guilty, the evidence is still presented by the prosecution and looked at by the judge, but it isn't shown to a jury in public.
Also, if there are other things the police might bring up if you contest the charges, if you just plead guilty, they might never find them. Or they might have agreed not to mention them at all. Both sides like an easy ride, and Sir Ron is a very old man.
So what has Ron Brierley got to do with Leighton Associates' interest in employment law and anti-money laundering? It's this.
The simple, easy, common get out of jail free card for sex offences has always been a "Non-Disclosure Agreement" or "NDA". Private individuals like Ron Brierley could just pay lawyers to arrange them. Government employees might want to get the taxpayer to pay lawyers to arrange an NDA to cover up for them. He has no previous criminal record and we can't know whether that's because he suddenly started with child pornography just before he was picked up, because he wasn't caught or because there were NDAs in place.
The problem with the NDAs was that if they covered up wrongdoing, especially offences, they couldn't be enforced.
Helen Cull QC got round that for her Wellington university lecturer client when in 1991 she got a High Court judge to issue an injunction to cover up sex allegations. That changed the law, but only in New Zealand, where the money laundering industry was also getting started.
One of the first beneficiaries of the new coverup injunctions was Ron Brierley, at the centre of the Winebox Affair.
Ron Brierley was the owner of one of the companies involved in the Winebox Affair, and he was the chairman of BNZ. The money that was used by the companies to generate income belonged to BNZ - actually, the taxpayer. Ron Brierley's company and other companies made lots of money out of that, but they didn't get prosecuted.
They also weren't made to give the money back.
It's difficult to prosecute for complicated financial offences. They can be really complex and sometimes there isn't clearly a law against what has been done. The scandal arose because Winston Peters MP was given evidence by a whistleblower, in wine boxes, and he took it to Parliament. Somehow it was never clear what happened, but nobody was prosecuted, even though Ron Brierley and other men making money out of something very dodgy was obvious.
It's not difficult to ask for money back that someone has gained by an abuse of trust or an abuse of their position. Was that tried?
There is a lot we don't know about the Winebox Affair because the media were prevented from reporting. Brierley and mates used the new coverup orders arranged by Helen Cull QC. So they got to keep "their" money.
That's the Brierley connection, and we think it is a significant one, because of what happened after that.
Not just New Zealand's leading corporate raider being arrested ... in Australia, not New Zealand ... for one of the major predicate offences for money laundering.
We think it is significant that New Zealand became a centre for money laundering and Helen Cull was still at the lead in cover up orders after money laundering was made illegal.
Now Helen Cull is a judge. Her fellow judges have supported her coverups.
If judges make coverup orders, can it be illegal to ask for them? No, of course not.
It's no surprise to Leighton Associates that if you make it possible for people to get away with wrongdoing, they will.
We are sorry to see New Zealand has been leading in that.
We also don't think it can end well.