Goff reckless, cowardly and wrong - McCullyForeign Affairs
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has called allegations made by Phil Goff MP against former Pacific Forum Line director Peter Kiely “reckless, cowardly and wrong”.
“By attacking Mr Kiely without checking the facts Mr Goff has impugned the reputation of a highly professional individual without any justification.
“Central to Mr Goff’s allegation is that Mr Kiely held shares in shipping company Sofrana at the time PFL, of which he was a director, was considering an offer from Sofrana.
“Mr Kiely has never owned shares in Sofrana. The shares referred to by Mr Goff were held by Mr Kiely as a non-beneficial trustee for a Sofrana employee. Practising lawyers like Mr Kiely commonly hold shares for clients as non-beneficial trustee. If Mr Goff had asked he could have been told this.
“There was no obligation for Mr Kiely to disclose such matters to the Ministry when he was appointed a director. Only personal interests must be disclosed. There has never been a requirement for lawyers to disclose clients’ interests.
“Furthermore, when Sofrana expressed interest in PFL, Mr Kiely ensured that the PFL chairman was made aware of the non-beneficial trustee holding, and took the further step of ceasing to act as trustee. This is more than he was obliged to do. I have sighted the relevant documentation today.
“Mr Goff has done Peter Kiely a great disservice. I asked Mr Kiely to become a director of PFL in 2009 when it became apparent that the company was in real trouble. It was clear to me that decisions of the previous board had set the company on a course to make major losses. Mr Kiely had been a director from 1992 to 2002 during which time the company made substantial profits. He was an obvious person to ask to undertake such a difficult task.
“Despite the best efforts of the board, PFL lost $14m over two years, but the company was rescued from complete failure.
“Mr Goff, having made reckless allegations that are wrong, now owes Mr Kiely a fulsome apology. Unless, of course, he will make these allegations outside the Chamber, in which case the law of defamation will teach Mr Goff an expensive lesson.
“It is beneath contempt for an experienced Parliamentarian and former party leader to make such reckless and damaging allegations with such serious implications for the integrity of a highly-regarded professional person without checking the facts.”