Picture: LOIC VENANCE
Picture: LOIC VENANCE

Wellington — America’s Cup holders Team New Zealand (TNZ) on Tuesday launched a blistering condemnation of the government department in charge of 2021’s event after an investigation into financial impropriety.

TNZ were cleared of financial wrongdoing in August after an audit of the public funding from the ministry of business, innovation and employment (MBIE) to America’s Cup Events (ACE), the body organising the regatta on behalf of TNZ.

The team, however, said the ministry had acted inappropriately and in bad faith during the investigation, releasing documentation to substantiate their accusations. The ministry has not responded to a request by Reuters for comment, though the New Zealand Herald and Stuff Media reported they had refuted the claims.

The documentation claimed the ministry had spent six months working with a company contracted to ACE to gather information before they told TNZ that allegations of impropriety had been made.

“We feel that we must now set the record straight having tried to respect a due process in this saga all year,” TNZ said in a statement. “We have wanted to avoid such a public condemnation of MBIE but given their moves to conceal their totally inappropriate behaviour through this protracted contractual process, we now feel obliged to release a suite of letters addressed to MBIE and ministers which call the ministry  to account for their actions.

“These letters paint quite a different story than that currently being presented.”

The New Zealand government and Auckland Council have contributed about NZ$250m ($164m) to host the event, including infrastructure spending. The ministry agreed to give about NZ$40m in funding to ACE.

The 36th America’s Cup will start in January with a regatta involving challengers from Italy, Britain and the US before the winner faces TNZ for the Cup in March.

Reuters

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