3 Jul 2020

A 'deliberate, sinister, and highly orchestrated attack' on Team NZ - Dalton

4:08 pm on 3 July 2020

Team NZ manager Grant Dalton says this week has seen a "highly orchestrated attack" on the team's integrity and credibility from people with "questionable motives".

Grant Dalton, Emirates Team New Zealand Managing Director talks to media at a press conference at the team's base in Auckland. 13/6/2014

Photo: PhotoSport

Team New Zealand has denied claims it mishandled public money, but the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) is looking into claims made by an unnamed contractor about financial mismanagement.

Police are also investigating the claims around Team New Zealand and its events arm, America's Cup Events (ACE).

Investigators are working with overseas authorities to find out more about an alleged Hungarian bank account scam that targeted the sailing syndicate. Attempts have been made to recover the money.

Earlier this week, Team New Zealand put out a statement saying it had outed "informants" at ACE. The informants' contracts were terminated.

In a statement released this afternoon, Dalton said the allegations were a textbook case of "intentional reputational damage 101".

"It is a deliberate, sinister, and highly orchestrated attack which includes anonymous tip-offs, recordings and document leaks."

He said the timing of the claims had been "very well considered" to take attention away from Team NZ's defence of the America's Cup.

"The reason we have been seriously concerned about the media reporting on the initial, incomplete and now 'leaked' report is because it will give competitive advantage to our on-water challengers during this and subsequent campaigns, we have had to take all actions available to protect that information and our competitive position."

Dalton emphasised that any outcomes from MBIE's investigation "can and will be worked through to ensure we deliver a great event and a successful campaign".

Almost $250 million in taxpayer and ratepayer money has gone into preparing for the 2021 competition.

Team New Zealand base at Auckland viaduct for America's Cup

The Team New Zealand base at Auckland's Viaduct Basin for the America's Cup. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern believes New Zealand needs to follow through with its hosting of the America's Cup.

That's despite the MBIE investigation and fears Covid-19 may have a significant financial impact on the event.

Ardern said the government must fulfill its commitments.

Meanwhile, Toyota said it was happy to continue its support of Team New Zealand. The car manufacturer has been a sponsor for 28 years and says it has no concerns over recent allegations swirling around the team.

Toyota general manager Andrew Davis said Team NZ has been regularly keeping it up to date and is adamant there has been no wrong-doing.

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