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Email scam: Team NZ confirms it sent funds to foreign bank account

Jul 01, 2020

Team New Zealand has denied any wrongdoing in the way it handled public funds for next year's America's Cup.

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

On Monday, the team's much-lauded preparations for the competition hit rough waters following allegations of spying among its ranks.

The Auckland-based team said claims by an unnamed contractor about finances and how they are managed were baseless, although they have prompted an investigation by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.

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

In a lengthy statement today, the team said its management arm, America's Cup Events, fell victim to an email scam and sent money to a Hungarian bank account.

The statement said this was reported to the police who alerted the relevant international authorities, and attempts were made to recover the funds.

The Serious Fraud Office today said it is not investigating allegations against Team New Zealand and event organisers regarding the management of public funds.

It said it has not received any complaints about the matter.

RNZ asked MBIE whether the department has any concerns about how public money has been used.

In a statement, MBIE general manager of tourism Iain Cossar said the investigation continued.

"So as to not undermine the current process, to protect commercial sensitivity and to protect the integrity of the ongoing investigation, we are unable to go into further detail at this time.

"We will provide an update when more information is available."

As fresh controversy surrounds the New Zealand team, the first of the America's Cup challengers has docked in Auckland ahead of next year's event.

American Magic's first AC75, named Defiant, has arrived after more than a month in transit.

Skipper and executive director Terry Hutchinson told Morning Report he was not really paying attention to the controversy.

"I'm honestly not really thinking about it. We're really focused on what we're doing."

On Monday Team New Zealand and ACE announced they have axed people they describe as informants, after the leaking of confidential information.

"In addition, these people have made highly defamatory and inaccurate allegations regarding financial and structural matters against ACE, ETNZ and its personnel," its spokesperson said.

Team New Zealand said the contracts of the informants had been terminated and despite the allegations being "baseless," MBIE had no choice but to investigate.

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