The New Zealand People’s Party and its General Secretary Anil Sharma are facing charges of breach of the Electoral Act relating to declaration of Party donations but Leader Roshan Nauhria does not think it is a serious issue.
“It was a genuine mistake. We are a new Party; we were naïve; we did not know all the regulations; we are in the process of learning,” he told Indian Newslink yesterday (Sunday).
Donation information not filed
Mr Nauhria had paid $206,000, made of 18 donations between July and October last year. The largest single donation was $52,000. He said that all the donations were made by him through several companies owned by him and the members of his family.
The law requires a Party Secretary to file a return for every Party Donation exceeding $30,000, including when aggregated with all previous donations from the donor in the past 12 months.
According to the Electoral Law, the Electoral Commission should be notified on or before November 1, 2017, non-compliance of which is considered contravention of the Electoral Act of 1993.
Charge Sheet issued
It is understood that the New Zealand Police interviewed Mr Sharma at the Police Station about two weeks ago and issued a charge-sheet saying that the New Zealand People’s Party had failed to file the requisite returns.
The Police then filed charges in the Auckland District Court on October 5, 2018.
“The case will be heard on October 28, 2018,” Mr Nauhria said.
Contravention of the Act could lead to fines and more serious punishment.
Mr Nauhria said that his Party had its accounts audited by a qualified accountant and that following a comprehensive report, the returns were filed to the Electoral Commission.
The Electoral Commission wrote to his Party pointing out breach.
Mr Nauhria said that he and his Party had offered their explanation to the Commission and declared the donations earlier this year, a few months past the deadline.
“We admitted the mistake. There was no question of hiding. We told the Electoral Commission that we had gone wrong but filed the details of all the donations immediately thereafter. I thought that the matter was over,” he said.
But Electoral laws in New Zealand are ultra strict and over the years, National, Labour and other smaller parties have been caught violating the electoral rules relating to donations and spending.
“This is therefore nothing new,” Mr Nauhria said.
“We do not have the administrative machinery like National and Labour Parties. We are a new Party, registered only in June 2017. We are still in the learning process. We have not defrauded anyone. All the monies have been accounted for and we have filed the due returns. Other Parties have committed the same mistake and have been let off with minor fines,” he said.
- Roshan Nauhria (NPP Leader)
- Anil Sharma (NPP General Secretary)