Aug 6, 2008

Oh Yes, We Remember Now

This from One News in 2004

There are new claims that New Zealand First leader Winston Peters dined free at a restaurant owned by key players at the centre of a parliamentary probe.
Peters said it was just a one-off but two former managers of
Kermadec Restaurant in Auckland have come forward after ONE News broke the story on Thursday night.
They say the MP was a regular visitor with meals charged to Kermadec's co-owner Peter Simunovich.
All this at a time Peters was sitting on a
Select Committee investigating the scampi fishing industry where Simunovich Fisheries is a dominant player.
Genny is a former manager of Simunovch's Kermadec Restauarant. She worked there for almost two years and remembers Peters as a frequent diner.
"He would walk in. It was usually no bookings. He would dine. There was sort-of no offer of payment from him. It was just known that it was charged back and it was usually when he was with himself or just a companion... It was frequent. It would have been probably every two months or something like that. It was frequent enough for us to know that it was happening," Genny said.
But on the Holmes Programme on Thursday night Peters denied ever eating free, claiming that he had only accepted a single meal as compensation after he had been grossly overcharged on a previous occasion.
Holmes Presenter Susan Wood asked Peters: "How many times last year did you go to Kermadec Restaurant and maybe the year before?"
"Over the last 10 years, I've been there on very rare occasions and that's a fact. But I can't tell you how many times last year. I suppose about two times. I don't know," Peters responded.
Wood asked: "Have you received any other free meals there Mr Peters?"
"I don't believe I have. No," Peters replied.
Yet Genny says Peters regularly dined at Kermadec without paying.
ONE News' Brent Fraser asked Genny: "Did Winston Peters pay for his meals there?"
"When he came by himself or with just another companion - often not. It was just generally known it was charged back to Simunovich Fisheries or to entertainment or however the accounting system worked," Genny said.
"Who told you to do that?" Fraser asked.
"We were told by our general manager or it would come through Vaughn," Genny replied.
Fraser asked: "What would he say?
"Um, just charge that back," Genny said.
"And that happened often?" Fraser asked.
"Yes, it did happen often, Genny said.
"Last year particularly?" Fraser asked.
"Last year particularly." Genny replied.
He also dined at the restaurant with Peter Simunovich.
"Yes, I have seen him dine with Winston Peters," Genny said.
"How many times?" Fraser asked.
"I can't be specific. But, he has done it - at least two times. But often in a group situation," Genny said.
Genny's account is backed by another former Kermadec manager. In a sworn affidavit on Friday, she told ONE News about three free dinners for Peters.
"On both (the first two) occasions when Winston Peters was part of Peter Simunovich's party, as best I recall, Peter Simunovich signed the bill for the table and I charged it to his personal account," she said.
And of a third dinner...
"At the end of the meal Winston Peters thanked me and left the restaurant. He did not offer to make any payment for the meal and he did not make any payment for the meal," she said in the affidavit.
That manager left Kermadec in April last year.
Fraser asked: "What would these meals cost approximately?"
"Um. On average he'd spend... There would be $60 per head and that's just an average. You know, two courses, a couple of glasses of wine and coffee," she said.
And Peters had other special treatment at Kermadec.
"On certain occasions he'd ask us to cash cheques for him as well, which was not an ordinary thing we did for customers, but it was done for Winston," she said.
ONE News now has three affidavits signed on oath by current or former Kermadec managers stating Peters dined at Kermadec without paying around the time of the select committee inquiry.
Neither Peter Simunovich nor Winston Peters would speak to ONE News on camera on Friday. Peters issued a statement saying he is taking legal action against TVNZ.
On Thursday night ONE News featured an entry in the Kermadec Restaurant diary showing Winston Peters charged a meal at Kermadec to Simunovich on September 22. It was supplied to us by Kermadec's account manager Debra Bodger.
But on Friday, Bodger was not talking. She has been suspended from Kermadec on full pay until further notice.