7 Mar 2019

Alleged briber in high-profile businessman's trial: Situation could 'disappear' if complaint dropped

7:49 pm on 7 March 2019

The jury in a high-profile businessman's trial has heard his alleged sex assault victim was told the whole thing could "disappear" if he dropped his police complaint.

Outside the Auckland District Court on Albert Street.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The prominent New Zealander is on trial in the Auckland District Court this month, accused of sexually assaulting two men and then trying to bribe one to keep quiet.

Today the second complainant told the jury he was staying with the man in October 2016 when he got into his bed and groped him.

He complained to police, who began investigating, and told the jury he was contacted by the man's associate six months later.

The associate, who has pleaded not guilty to three charges of attempting to dissuade a witness, wanted to arrange a business meeting, he said.

The complainant said the contact felt forced and unnatural so he took his phone to the meeting and recorded 25 minutes of the conversation.

This recording was played to the jury this afternoon. The pair can be heard talking about contracts, money and the businessman.

The associate tells the man he could make it all "disappear" before giving him a $15,000 cheque he was told would clear when he dropped his complaint.

"This way at least I can get in there and do [my] fixing thing ... many years ago I had to, help someone, it worked out really well, I was like hahahaha, but I wouldn't be bothering if you weren't any good," the associate said.

The associate goes on to tell the man the system was against him and he would be clever to drop the complaint.

Associate: "You're a very strong young man, that's what I like about you - there are some people that just have too much, crush."

Complainant: "Too much?"

Associate: "They can crush, people out there who can crush people."

Complainant: "Mmmm, yeah I avoid those ones."

Associate: "No you didn't."

Complainant: "Well..."

Associate: "Why'd you stay there in the first place?"

Complainant: "I was food poisoned ... that wasn't why I stayed there in the first place, yeah ..."

Associate: "I don't need to know anything actually I don't want to know anything ..."

Complainant: "Yeah, probably best if you don't."

In the recording the associate asks the man to contact his lawyer if he had made a report.

Complainant: "A report ... what do you mean."

Associate: "Well you've made an accusation haven't you ..."

Complainant: "Yes."

Associate: "Well if you want to withdraw it, that's her job, she'll go with you, like all the others ... what's your gut feeling?"

Complainant: "Ummm, mine is if I make this kind of move, you know, cos it's like playing chess."

Associate: "But you've won, it's no chess game, I'm in the middle here now."

The complainant said he left the meeting under the impression his career would be hurt if he did not drop his police complaint.

"My heart just sank. I guess I was just trying to believe in him to be there for me and it was just becoming clearer as our conversation happened that his intention was just to talk to his lawyer and get me to retract my statement."

The businessman, and his two associates who are also on trial, have all strenuously denied the allegations.

Yesterday the second complainant, who said he was groped by the man at a business meeting, was accused of lying on the stand.

The prominent New Zealander's lawyer David Jones QC said he had made it up to get back at his client after botching a business deal.

It is expected Mr Jones will cross-examine the second complainant tomorrow.