McCully excuses unravel in Saudi sheep scandal

Murray McCully has misled New Zealanders, Parliament and his Cabinet colleagues on the real reasons for paying millions of dollars in the Saudi sheep scandal – it’s time for him to clean, says Labour’s Export Growth and Trade spokesperson David Parker.

“Mr McCully insisted on his Saudi sheep stitch-up being under the table so didn’t seek advice on whether the deal contravened OECD conventions, ask for legal advice on Al-Khalaf’s threatened lawsuit and didn’t tell Cabinet the lawsuit threat had been withdrawn before his colleagues agreed to the first $4 million payment.

“This was a facilitation payment to advance the stalled Gulf Cooperation Council FTA. In other jurisdictions it’s called a bribe. He must explain why he didn’t seek proper advice on this matter.

“Mr McCully has today been forced to confirm the threat of legal action had been withdrawn before the $4 million facilitation payment had been approved by Cabinet. He must explain why he misled first his Cabinet colleagues, then Parliament and the media.

“The Minister also could not say that there was no involvement from the Al Khalaf group in the tender for the subsequent $6 million model farm deal. He refuses to deny that either Saudi officials or the Al Khalaf group had a say in the process which resulted in their New Zealand business partners winning that tender.

“Mr McCully kept the $4 million deal so quiet it is not mentioned in any press releases from him or his government going back to 2012.

“Since Mr McCully's accusation yesterday I have personally contacted every prime minister, deputy prime minister, and ministers of foreign affairs, trade, finance and agriculture in the Labour-led government from 2005 onwards. That is Ministers Clark, Cullen, Peters, Goff and Anderton.

“None recall any contact with MFAT about this alleged claim of up to $30m that Mr McCully previously blamed for the first $4 million payment to the Al Khalaf group.

“Any legal claim in 2013 would have to be based on events during or after 2007 because of the 6 year limit to commence Court proceedings under the Limitation Act. Mr McCully's pretence has been unpicked,” says David Parker.