21 May 2014

Cook Islands aid misuse claim rejected

3:50 pm on 21 May 2014

New Zealand's Minister of Foreign Affairs, says he is not aware of any misuse of aid funding involving the Cook Islands Prime Minister.

It is alleged Henry Puna received 100 thousand US dollars worth of equipment and loan funding from the New Zealand Government for his pearl farm in Manihiki.

Murray McCully says revitalising the pearl industry was identified as a priority by the previous Cook Islands Government with a proposal for funding being put before Mr Puna became Prime Minister.

He says it is widely known that Mr Puna is involved in the pearl farming industry.

He says the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade monitors all aid expenditure to ensure spending is consistent with contractual arrangements and provides value for money for New Zealand taxpayers.

Mr McCully says the Ministry has not brought to his attention any allegations of misuse of taxpayer funding in this case, and if such allegations were to emerge they would be investigated in the normal manner.