Tim Dower: We deserve to know more about dodgy diplomat case

Tim Dower,
Publish Date
Monday, 8 July 2019, 11:33AM
Our corruption free reputation deserves protecting, writes Tim. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Let’s talk about this case of the diplomat caught trying to bring in $300,000 in cash.

You probably know that if you've got more than 10,000 in cash, you're meant to declare it.

Our rules are consistent with most other parts of the world. You have to actively tick the box on your arrival card, which is available in more than 30 languages.

As was reported yesterday, Customs seized the cash at the border, and held onto it, but has since given it back.

Now, we're not allowed to know which country this person is from to protect diplomatic relations with that nation. And the story says officials were satisfied this was a mistake.

I'm not sure if they're using the word 'mistake' in the way people who murder their partners use it in court these days? Or the mistake we see on Border Patrol when someone's declared no food, but turns out to have a suitcase full of dried octopus guts?

Is it really possible that a person would forget they've got 300 grand in their bag? Maybe if you're a multi-millionaire, but a diplomat?

We're told there's no evidence of money laundering, and nothing to point to dirty money, but what diplomat accrues that amount of cash by legitimate means?

And if you're transferring such a sum for legitimate purposes, why cash? Why wouldn't you do it through a regular channel like a bank, where a transfer of that size has to be reported?

And what was the purpose of this money, and where, or to whom, was it intended to go?

Something smells really bad here. I believe we deserve to know a lot more about this.

Why did the man get off with a warning, and get the money back? What pressure was there from the nation the man represented, or were we afraid of consequences?

New Zealand has a reputation for being almost free of corruption. That's important, and it's worth protecting.

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