High-profile businessman trial: secret recording of alleged bribe played in court

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Man who accuses prominent businessman of petting him in bed says he secretly taped one of the man’s associates trying to bribe him with $ 15,000, and felt threatened reprisals by a “cartel” which would damage his career if he did not withdraw his complaint against the police.

Crown attorney Simon Foote QC (left) and defense lawyer David Jones QC.
Photo: Pool / New Zealand Herald / Michael Craig

The accused, a wealthy man who has his name removed, is charged with three counts of indecent assault and two of misappropriation of the course of justice.

This plaintiff is the third to address the Auckland High Court to accuse the businessman of indecent assault.

He was staying at the eminent man’s house and working for him in 2016. He had food poisoning late at night and went to bed when he heard a knock on the door.

“[The accused] then entered my room. I thought “okay, he’s just going to help me get into bed” and prayed for him to go. He then pulls the sheet, climbs on top of me … then spoons me from behind and kisses me. “

He said this was not the first time the accused had been sexually suggestive – the complainant said the businessman non-consensually lowered his pants and praised his penis.

The accused, he said, also showed up earlier that night to a room he was in, completely naked, and suggested that they return together to the accused’s bedroom.

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Once the businessman was in the complainant’s bed, the businessman started to touch the man’s penis and body, saying ‘let me stroke you’, the complainant told the jury.

He said a million thoughts were going through his mind but he was frozen.

“Am I just lying here and let this man take advantage of me and mistreat me? Or am I calling for help? Am I defending myself?”

It lasted five or 10 minutes, he said, but “it went on for hours.”

“I was able to elbow him from behind, kick him, hit him, push him out of the way to get out of bed.

He said he managed to escape to another room.

The accused left and returned to his own room, and the man, feeling even sicker, began to vomit again and was taken to hospital for some fluids.

It was there that he recounted what had happened to a nurse, who arranged for the police to speak to him early the next morning, which he did.

The man never returned to the businessman’s house, not even to get his clothes back.

Five months later, following the man’s allegations, the businessman was charged.

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Shortly after the charge was laid, the complainant met a mutual friend of both him and the accused, who introduced him to the businessman.

“He almost started talking in riddles or by code. I was thinking [he] maybe trying to convince me to change my story, ”he said.

“My hunch was like ‘you have to tape this conversation because something is going to happen’.”

He sent the recording to a police officer working on his case.

Judge Geoffrey Venning.

Judge Geoffrey Venning.
Photo: Pool / New Zealand Herald / Michael Craig

The recording was played in court.

In it, a man relates that the complainant withdrew his allegation.

“Dissolve it, get rid of it, let’s start this career, and let me check the funds of [the businessman] at some point, which won’t be difficult, I can assure you, ”said the associate, who deleted the name.

“Get rid of yours, and I’ll do the rest,” he said before chuckling.

The man in the recording offered the complainant access to a lawyer who would help him withdraw his complaint if he wanted to.

“If you do a – what do you call it?” – a report, whatever, a written document, [the lawyer] can help you with that …

“Well, you made an accusation, didn’t you? “Yes”, replied the complainant. “Well, if you want to remove it, it’s [the lawyer’s] job.

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“That way you could make it all go away, if you wanted to.”

There has been talk of a group of “wicked” people called the “cartel”.

The complainant said he felt threatened with reprisal if he did not withdraw his complaint.

“I think the blackmail and things might come out, but this is about your career.”

The money was also mentioned by the mutual friend, which the complainant said did not matter to him.

“Money is no problem for me,” replied the complainant. “It’s more about the abuse of power between white and brown.”

Crown attorney Simon Foote QC questioned the complainant about a check mentioned during the secret recording.

“[The associate] was referring to a check, it was made out to me … $ 15,000. He put it on the table and slid it towards me, ”the man said. He said he believed the money would be in exchange for withdrawing the complaint.

He took a photo of the check and also sent it to the police officer, a copy of which was distributed to the jury, showing the date, names, amount and the signer.

In the recording, the associate identifies himself and mentions the accused by name.

The accused sat in silence on the dock.

The trial, before a jury and Judge Venning, continues.

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