4 Mar 2019

Dame Jenny Shipley steps down as director of China Construction Bank

5:18 pm on 4 March 2019

Dame Jenny Shipley has announced she's retiring as chair of China Construction Bank New Zealand.

Dame Jenny Shipley

Dame Jenny Shipley will be stepping down as a director of the China Construction Bank New Zealand as of 31 March 2019. Photo: RNZ

In a statement, she said she told her fellow directors she believed it was in the best interests of the company and is retiring from the board at the end of the month.

Political questions were being asked about whether her position was tenable, after a High Court ruling about the failed construction company Mainzeal.

The court ruled that Mainzeal traded while insolvent for nine years and held some of the directors, including Dame Jenny, liable for $36 million for letting it happen.

The former prime minister is liable for up to $6m and still holds several senior director positions, including chairperson of the China Construction Bank NZ (until the end of this month) and executive board member of The New Zealand China Council.

Sources told RNZ last week that Dame Jenny's role on the executive board of The New Zealand China Council had already been an item of discussion amongst senior Cabinet ministers in light of the Mainzeal court judgement.

The council receives approximately two-thirds of its operational funding from the government through an annual grant from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Foreign Minister Winston Peters has also been critical of Dame Jenny in recent weeks.

She said she intended to put her energy into personal and legal matters related to the Mainzeal case.

A statement said she was extremely proud to have served on the Board of CCBNZ since its establishment five years ago and of its many achievements including the recent securing of a Branch banking licence.

"After stepping down from this Board Dame Jenny intends to put her energy into dealing with personal and legal matters related to the Mainzeal case and to spending more time on her private business and philanthropic interests and to speaking here and offshore on a wide range of topics," the statement said.

Dame Jenny served as a director of the Hong Kong and Shanghai listed China Construction Bank global board for six years from 2007 to 2013.

Today China Construction Bank is the fifth largest bank in the world by market cap.

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