8 Mar 2019

Alleged sex victim asks for $700k to keep quiet, court hears

5:29 pm on 8 March 2019

The jury in the trial of a high-profile businessman has heard a secret recording in which his alleged sex victim asks for $700,000 to retract his police complaint.

Outside the Auckland District Court on Albert Street.

Photo: RNZ / Claire Eastham-Farrelly

The prominent New Zealander, who has name suppression, is on trial in the Auckland District Court accused of sexually assaulting two men and then trying to bribe one into silence.

It's alleged he got into bed with one of the men, who was staying with him in October 2016, and groped his crotch.

The businessman and two of his associates are also accused of trying to bribe this young man to keep quiet with cheques and job opportunities.

This morning the jury watched a secret video recording taken at an alleged bribe meet-up, dubbed by the Crown as the 'Gold Coast plot'.

The court heard one of the man's associates organised for the complainant to be flown to the Gold Coast to meet two people, who cannot be named, to discuss potential business opportunities.

During the meeting the associates told the man they could draw up contracts if he returned to New Zealand to retract his police statement about the businessman, referred to as 'Client A'.

In the video recording, taken as they sit on the balcony of a luxury hotel, the complainant asks for $700,000.

"Someone's life is probably worth about $700,000," he said.

An associate responds, "And that's what you want? $700,000? Cos a life's worth $700,000."

Complainant: "Give or take 25 years."

Associate: "And so if he, the person in question ..."

Complainant: "Client A, yeah ..."

Associate: "... put that in your account, you'd retract the statement?"

Complainant: "Immediately."

The complainant later told the court he felt vulnerable and wanted to make an outrageous request to shut the meeting down.

The complainant said the man said it was cheaper to hire a hitman.

"When [the associate] mentioned hiring hitmen it put things into perspective of the weight behind everything and their intentions of being there," the complainant told Crown prosecutor Simon Foote.

He said when he returned to New Zealand he contacted the police officer in charge of the case.

The businessman and his associates have each strenuously denied the allegations.

On Tuesday the businessman's lawyer David Jones QC said his client's wealth had made him a target for people who wanted money.

This afternoon he accused the complainant of sending his police statements to a "reporter".

"I suggest you are looking for a pay day as a result of making and maintaining a complaint," he said.

The young man denied the proposition and others put to him that he had invented the alleged sexual assault out of "effectively nothing".

David Jones QC went on to accuse both of the complainants of fabricating their stories after falling out with the businessman.

The three defendants lost their bids for continued name suppression at the start of the trial but their identities remain a secret on appeal.