"We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity" - Neil Roberts

Until we have legislation adopted into law to ensure fiduciary accountability and transparency in public affairs we will continue to have human rights breached because the existing crown immunity and lack of any independent oversight invites corruption to flourish.

"Question authority, and think for yourself" - Timothy Leary

"We have maintained a silence closely resembling stupidity" - Neil Roberts

"Information is the currency of democracy" - Thomas Jefferson

‎"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever does." - Margaret Mead

"The truth is like a lion, you don't have to defend it. Let it loose, it will defend itself."

"I = m c 2 [squared] where "I" am information" - Timothy Leary

"Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, there's a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." Leonard Cohen

"The internet is a TV that watches you"

Friday, January 29, 2010

Transparency International NZ just a front for a few corrupt ex police and their wives by the look of it:

Transparency in New Zealand (Kiwikileaks) began from a realisation that the culture of dealing with complaints in New Zealand has become corrupted, and that corruption and incompetence are rife in the public sector.

I decided, after following the correct channels, writing endless letters to managers and ministers, and the Ombudsmen and the PCA, and politely pointing out that taxpayer funded organisations were blatantly corrupt, only to be fobbed off with even more corrupt responses, that the solution to this was to put the evidence of it on the internet. This is a new investigation service. It operates by putting the evidence of corruption and incompetence on the internet for all to see exactly how our taxes are spent. The last straw was when we discovered the truth about the government funded organisation Transparency International. The following reports are copied from Vince Seimer's website Kiwisfirst.com:

12 February 2009
In a 9 square metre closet next to the elevator shaft on the fourth floor of a former department store in Wellington resides an eight year old 'autonomous chapter' of the Berlin based Transparency International. The office is so obscure that a kiwisfirst staffer searching for the office in November resorted to asking a Courier delivering a package on the same floor where it was. The Courier had no clue. The closet office was finally found but no one was home. The only identification was a A4 letterhead stationary folded in half and taped to the locked red door. A business card was left on the door with a request to call, but no return call came.

A Wellington man first brought the NZ chapter to the attention of kiwisfirst a year ago. He had read on the Ministry of Justice website how TI had rated New Zealand along with Iceland the most transparent of the 180 countries it ranks. This raised questions for the man, so he phoned the office. A former kiwifruit salesman with dubious credentials answered the phone and introduced himself as the Chief Executive Officer. He was so pleased to have a phone call from another Kiwi, saying it was a rare thrill. He spoke effusively of the chapter's mission to bring transparency to the 'Pacific Islands'. It was minutes before the caller could squeeze in a question. Finally, the man asked what the chapter was doing about transparency in New Zealand and CEO Paul Browne haltingly responded that this was not a problem. The call abruptly ended.

Kiwisfirst finally got through in January. CEO Browne again answered the call and quickly went for the sell. TINZ was doing wonderful things, he said. Business corruption was a result of a lack of transparency and TINZ were deeply engaged in spreading religion to the hapless Pacific Island nations which desperately needed this gospel. Déja vu hit the reporter. He played along for a bit, until he found the opportunity during this gospel to ask the enlightened one how the Corruption Perception Index came to rate NZ tops in the world on transparency. Browne matter-of-factly responded the CPI was self evident. This allowed the reporter to ask him whether he was familiar with the October 2006 OECD report which would appear to beg to differ. "Yes", Browne countered defensively, emphatically adding the TI ranking "is a perception index". "New Zealanders believe NZ is highly transparent. My job is focused on Pacific Island nations."

He was asked whether TI's top ranking could be defended when it is actually touted on the NZ Ministry of Justice website as seeming validation why NZ Court judgments need to be trusted without accurate recording of hearings. What others do with TI's opinions was outside their control, he asserted. He insisted TI did not promote the CPI as anything but perception. He was then asked whether the organization was alarmed that the New Zealand Courts were wearing the TI CPI as a badge of honour when the Courts did not allow accurate recording - i.e. transparency - without expressed consent of the Judge. Mr Browne was now uncomfortable. He became suddenly busy. He apologized for having to cut short the call to attend to other pressing business.

The International, not-for-profit Berlin based Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) was founded some 15 years ago to actively work toward reducing corruption by promoting transparency in government and business environments. Since then, some 90 'independent national chapters' have sprung up. The New Zealand chapter has been around for 6 years. In contrast to the potent fight parent TI has waged to keep its official line promoted on websites like Wikipedia, source information for the New Zealand chapter was hard to come by for this story. Information from TINZ's official website www.transparencynz.org.nz was strong on platitudes but light on substance - if not misleading. The website link to "Newsletter and documents" did not work. It was soon discovered several directors were added to the website merely to effuse false credibility. Instead of the nine directors listed, inside information suggested there are actually only four.
Kiwisfirst emailed these four directors, as well as CEO Browne, seeking basic information such as number of NZ staff, sources of funding, a newsletter and an accurate list of directors. Every inquiry went unanswered - even a subsequent detailed request for the above information from New Zealander Jeremy Pope, a former New Zealand Law Journal Editor listed as a 'founding member' of the original Berlin Secretariat NGO. Mr Pope is not listed as connected with the local chapter.

According to the International Secretariat website "TI raises awareness and diminishes apathy and tolerance of corruption, and devises and implements practical actions to address it." Such nobleness has not insulated the Berlin parent from criticism. The organization has achieved some infamy over disclosures its funding has come from notoriously opaque (and corrupt) corporations such as ENRON. Secretariat staffers have responded by obtusely referring to the public bloggers ignorance of its goals, relationships with its 'independent national chapters' and fundraising methods on webpostings.
If transparency is the goal of the New Zealand chapter, one could at least say the organization is as invisible to New Zealanders as its closet office. From most reliable indications, the local chapter is little more than a fundraising and lobbying entity for certain NZ bureaucrats and businessmen.

The "Deputy Chairwoman" of TINZ, Claire Johnstone, is a principal in a consulting company called Sinclair Robertson Associates. SRA's website brags "We deliver strategic development services for a variety of clients, ranging from iwi groups to central and local government, not-for-profit organizations and small to medium sized enterprise. We have particular expertise in analyzing and presenting an organisation's business case. This has allowed us to raise equity or access grant funding from government for many of our clients."

Auspiciously omitted from Ms Johnstone's business profile on the SRA site is her directorship of 'not-for-profit' TINZ, as well as her current position as General Manager Corporate for the New Zealand Ministry of Transport. While such obvious conflicts do not necessarily suggest or lead to corruption, it is safe to say few people would find such conduct "transparent". SRA's website claims to entice new clients, coupled with obvious relevant omissions, do beg questions. Is TINZ a client of SRA and, if so, did TINZ benefit from the government largesse SRA (and government official Claire Johnstone) get for their clients? If so, omissions of information by double-dipping directors raise legitimate concerns. This is all the more worrisome if done by self-professed anti-corruption advocates of transparency.
TINZ Board Members are a snapshot of longstanding government bureaucrats, with Chairman Gerard McGhie touted as a "38 year member of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade". It begins to make sense why a fruit salesman is the chapter's CEO.

For a not-for-profit organisation actively soliciting donations, it is particularly surprising how clandestine the local chapter seems to be. It defies reason that any organisation would seemingly refuse to provide rudimentary information such as an accurate list of directors or newsletter. For this reason, Kiwisfirst will continue to investigate this story. Stay tuned.


11 December 2009
In a stinging irony - on United Nations International Anti-Corruption Day no less - Chairman Gerald McGhie of Transparency International's "autonomous" New Zealand chapter ordered Police to arrest public watchdog Penny Bright for trespassing at its Annual General Meeting on Wednesday. This was despite the government-funded group riding her coat-tails as a watchdog front ostensibly focused on increasing transparency and exposing corruption. Attendees were given pamphlets with the bold heading "CORRUPTION RUINS LIVES - FIGHT BACK". Once inside, the local chapter's newsletter on the information table lauded Ms Bright as an "Anti-corruption campaigner".

Bright is due to appear at Wellington District Court on the criminal charge Monday.

Despite Transparency International New Zealand's website encouraging new memberships and guests to attend the AGM, which featured Attorney General Chris Finlayson as speaker, at least five applications for membership were declined and five others were turned away from the meeting. Only 20-25 people did attend. The drama was caught on film by a TV cameraman, including the small protest against the organisation conducted outside the high rise office building.

Ms Bright paid $56 to join the non-profit organisation earlier this month and had travelled down from Auckland to Wellington to attend the AGM at the law offices of Minter Ellison Rudd Watts. CEO Paul Browne met her at the door and announced "You are not welcome (here) Ms Bright". Ms Bright was one of six who initially did not accept this polite rejection.

Ms Bright has been critical this year of Transparency International New Zealand as a "perpetrator of the myth" that New Zealand has low corruption. She has recently alleged the closed-shop and secretive nature of the not-for-profit organisation goes against every principle it supposedly stands for. While her membership was not declined, she asserts that those who have been declined were not given reasons for such declination - and that this failure directly conflicts with TINZ's membership application which states reasons will be provided where an application is declined.

Ms Bright, a self-funded public watchdog who operates on a shoe-string budget, has repeatedly asked TINZ for information as to its financial funding, expenditures and meeting minutes. The response has been silence.

Kiwisfirst has surreptitiously obtained TINZ's 2009 financials, which seem to raise suspicions about their stiff-arm to requests for this information. $544,446 of their 2009 revenue came from an auspicious NZAID grant, while only $5,791 came from membership subscriptions. It appears that TINZ has no employees. Office rent for 2009 was only $3,118. Meanwhile, there are some seemingly un-transparent and rather large expenditures of $281,820 for "core funding", $75,778 for "civics education" and $40,655 for "peer learning network".

As reported earlier this year by kiwisfirst, Transparency International New Zealand's Board of Directors seems comprised of feather-nesting bureaucrats with fingers in businesses that benefit from covering-up corruption. That type of deception might be arguably innocuous if the organisation was not overtly presenting itself to the unsuspecting public as the corruption police - and receiving government aid and preferred tax status as a result. To "raise awareness of corruption" is publicly touted as the Berlin-based parent Transparency International's primary goal. But, it is safe to say, the reality is quite the opposite within the New Zealand chapter. Last month TINZ popped its head up briefly to herald the fact that New Zealand was rated best among the 180 countries surveyed in TI's "Corruption Perception Index" but is itself transparent when it comes to raising actual awareness of corruption in New Zealand.

Add to this the appearance that the local chapter seems rife with conflicts and lacks any diversity. Deputy Chairwoman Claire Johnstone alone works as General Manager Corporate for the New Zealand Governement Ministry of Transport and is also principle of a consulting company (Sinclair Robertson Associates) which boasts success in getting its private sector clients government funding. At the AGM, her husband, NZ Police Constable Ash Johnstone, was running security.

To the public, TINZ lists as " Goal 1" of its workplan "Greater Accountability and Transparency in New Zealand". Yet, CEO Browne admitted in a phone interview earlier this year that TINZ was not generally focused on reducing corruption in New Zealand because it was "perceived" not to exist. When asked to identify an initiative coming from TINZ to promote transparency or expose corruption within New Zealand, he refused to answer on the professed basis TINZ was more effective working within quiet diplomatic channels. Instead, he bragged ethereally about the good works the local chapter was doing among the smaller Pacific islands in furthering transparency and reducing corruption. BACK TO FRONT PAGE

The following correspondence was then exchanged:

27 January 2010 - From Penny Bright: Latest developments from the (not so) transparent people.
The THOT PLICKENS! FAR OUT! How 'transparent' is TINZ??? hmmmm....not very!
How come Board members could make a decision on my request to attend the TINZ AGM - but not my membership application???
Did we ever get a copy of the minutes of the TINZ Board mtg on 23 November 2009? DUH???
Seems we have affected a 'rule change;' regarding the inclusion of membershoip fees at the time of membership application!!
(You don't have to send in membership fees at the same time now :)
Any thoughts??? Cheers! Penny bloody Bright

Date: Wed, Jan 27, 2010 at 2:19 PM
Subject: TI(NZ) membership request/ personal information request
To: Penny Bright <waterpressure@gmail.com

Dear Ms Bright

I refer to your email sent 22 January 2010. The Executive Officer is currently overseas and I am responding on his behalf during his absence.

I have considered the points raised in your email and advise:

Application for membership

1. Your application for membership, which was received on 23 November 2009, was too late for inclusion on the Agenda for the November Board meeting.

2. Your application for membership was placed on the Agenda for the Board meeting on 21 January. It was agreed at that meeting that the decision of all Board members on membership applications, including yours, would be sought by email.
a. Your application, therefore, has neither been declined nor accepted. You will be advised of the outcome of your application in due course.

b. Under the rules, decisions on membership applications are within the discretion of individual board members. TI(NZ) has not established criteria for membership. Board members are not required to give explanations for their decisions and TI(NZ) neither seeks nor records information on which individual Board members base their decisions.

Personal information request
3. Information has been withheld from the documents supplied in response to your request for access to personal information only where it falls outside the scope of your request or where disclosure would involve the unwarranted disclosure of the affairs of another individual.

Transparency International (New Zealand) has provided all the information it holds that falls within the scope of the personal information request we have received from you. We cannot assist further with this matter. In anticipation of a further request for disclosure of personal information, however, I confirm that you will be provided with copies of the Board members’ decisions on your membership application, when these are available.

I note your concern that your membership fee is being held pending the outcome of your application. While until now the process has been that membership fees are paid at the time of application and held in trust pending the outcome of the Board decision on temporary membership, in future fees will not be required to accompany the application.

Yours sincerely

Julie Browne

pp. Paul Browne
Executive Officer,
Transparency International New Zealand.

The truth is that there is way more corruption in NZ than we realise, and in the South Pacific in general. Another example can be found here, Barry Grossman has documented his experiences on the site Open Trial in a way that's easy to follow and clearly it's indisputable evidence of blatant corruption. Barry can be contacted through Facebook.

This from National Business Review's Niko Kloeten, 10 December 2010:

"An “alarming” 4% of New Zealanders admit to having paid a bribe in New Zealand in the last 12 months, according to Transparency International’s 2010 Global Corruption Barometer.

Transparency International New Zealand director Alex Tan described it as a “truly alarming” result, but “in some ways not surprising.”

He said, “We have traditionally tended to rest on our laurels and think we are above corruption and bribery practices which are common place in the rest of the world.

“In fact, this can be a naïve assumption and we need to stay on our game and be vigilant about these matters.”

The New Zealand figure was higher than our traditional benchmarks Australia (2%) and the UK (1%), and looked particularly bad next to Denmark’s 0% result.

Mr Tan said this was the first time the survey had included New Zealand so it was impossible to tell whether the bribery figure had increased or not. [Really?]

There was also no way of knowing exactly where people were paying bribes. [Really? You could always just ask them!]

“The questions are relatively simple- what it means is in their mind they have had to pay something extra to a public official to get something done,” he told the National Business Review

“The message is, actually we may still be a very corruption free society but there is corruption going on that we don’t want to admit.” [Really?]

Nearly three-quarters of New Zealanders (73%) felt corruption had increased in this country in the last three years and political parties were rated the most corrupt group, followed by Parliament and the private sector.

Referring to new UK anti-bribery legislation (see NBR, October 15), Mr Tan said it is illegal for New Zealand companies to pay overseas but there has never been a single prosecution for it.

The truth is that there is way more corruption in Australia and NZ than we realise. Another example can be found here, Barry Grossman has documented his experiences on the site Open Trial in a way that's easy to follow and clearly it's indisputable evidence of blatant corruption. Barry can be contacted through Facebook, and would appreciate support, legal advice, etc.

It's not enough to just "measure perception of corruption" - we need to establish effective means of exposing it, legislating against it, and preventing it! The irony is that Transparency International NZ is funded to effectively conceal corruption and has no intention of ever investigating it or doing anything constructive about it, and the organisation itself appears to be corrupt - or at least seriously dysfunctional and redundant.

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