Success: Flying Sheep & Dodgy Deals


To the Auditor-General,

 

We call for a full investigation into the $11.5 million dollars of taxpayer money spent by Foreign Minister Murray McCully on Hamood Al-Ali Al-Khala’s sheep farm in Saudi Arabia.

Will you sign?


10,501 SIGNATURES
10,000 signatures

“Is anyone else really angry about the government giving $11 million to some Saudi magnate as hush money?" - Jennifer S, ActionStation member

The Government has paid $11 million in taxpayer funded hush money to an influential Saudi businessman to prevent a ‘possible’ lawsuit over a false promise the National Party made to the businessman before they were in Government.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Murray McCully, has been caught paying what looks very much like a bribe to a Saudi businessman called Hamood Al-Ali Al-Khalaf whose live sheep exporting business was damaged by this country’s ban on such exports back in 2003. [1]

When the Labour-led government first banned the live exports of sheep, Al Khalaf allegedly contacted the National Party to express his opposition to the change. The National Party then made a promise to Al Khalaf that once they were in Government they would reverse the ban on live exports. When National won the election in 2008, Al Khalaf is said to have invested tens of millions of dollars in New Zealand farmland and a ship that could transport sheep to Saudi Arabia. But National didn’t change the law.

Using Cabinet papers obtained under the Official Information Act, NBR’s Jamie Ball has raised a number of questions about whether proper processes have been followed for the use of taxpayer money. He has also uncovered evidence that appears to confirm that the deal making has been carried out in order to advance negotiations for a trade deal with the Gulf states. [2]

As part of the deal the Minister even flouted NZ law and had 1000 sheep flown over to the Middle East.

Only the Auditor-General can get to the bottom of this deal with a full investigation to work out how the Minister can justify paying $11 million in hush money to an influential Saudi businessman.

Sign the petition and sound the alarm. Together, we can get to the bottom of this dodgy deal.

NB: We’ll be delivering this petition to the Auditor General in mid-June.


Further reading:

Here is an overall summary from Danyl Mclauchlan’s blogpost, The Secret Agrihub in the middle of the Arabian Desert’: [3]

  • Back in 2003 New Zealand stopping exporting live sheep to Saudi Arabia
  • According to Matthew Hooton, a very wealthy and influential Saudi businessman named Hmood Al Khalaf, who had a business importing sheep contacted National when they were in opposition, and John Key and David Carter privately assured him that exports would resume when National came to power.
  • When National won the election in 2008, Al Khalaf supposedly invested tens of millions of dollars in New Zealand farmland and a ship that could transport sheep to Saudi Arabia. But National didn’t change the law.
  • So Al Khalaf hired Mai Chen to prepare a lawsuit against the government, claiming for ‘between $20 million and $30 million. He also, allegedly, used his influence in Saudi Arabia to block a free trade deal between New Zealand and the Gulf States.
  • McCully has now admitted that he didn’t take any legal advice on the strength of Al Khalaf’s claim. Instead he arranged for MFAT and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise to ‘invest’ $11.5 million dollars in a ‘bold and courageous’ Agrihub in the middle of the Arabian desert on property owned by Al Khalaf. You can view recent satellite photos of the ‘Agrihub’ on google maps, here.
  • We also bought a number of Suffolk Ewes – bred for cold conditions – off a company part owned by Al Khalaf and flew them to Saudi Arabia in an air-conditioned Singapore Air plane. They now allegedly reside at the Agrihub, where daytime temperatures average 50 degrees Celsius.
  • The Agrihub is (a) designed to be a regional showcase for New Zealand farming techniques and technologies and (b) is not accessible because it is on private property in the middle of the desert.

For a more comprehensive overview, see Aimee Gulliver’s What you need to know about the Government's deal with the Saudi businessman.

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