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Maori Party candidate cleared of bribery

12 September 2017 5:41 AM
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Maori Party candidate cleared of bribery

Maori Party candidate Wetex Kang has been cleared by the Electoral Commission of using a Chinese messaging site to buy votes.

Chief electoral officer Alicia Wright, in a letter to Mr Kang on Tuesday, says the commission is confident that he hasn't given any money directly or indirectly to induce an elector to vote for him.

It has concluded that he has not committed the offence of bribery under the Electoral Act.

The commission investigated claims that Mr Kang offered virtual credits on the popular WeChat mobile app as part of his campaign for the Auckland seat of Botany.

The credits were in a virtual version of "hong bao", a Chinese tradition of gifting money in red envelopes at special occasions.

Party president Tukoroirangi Morgan said last week that the claim was a "smear campaign" against his party.

Ms Wright said Mr Kang had advised that he was not responsible for any of the nine envelopes sent on WeChat, which had a total value of $38.25.

Five were posted by Mr Kang's WeChat campaign page administrator and the rest by independent supporters.

While the red envelopes were a form of valuable consideration, the commission did not consider that, in the circumstances and given the amounts involved, they would amount to an inducement to vote.

However, a commission spokesperson said candidates, parties and supporters were cautioned against using WeChat red envelopes to promote election advertisements as it carried risk of complaints of bribery.

Mr Kang. the party's first candidate of Asian descent, said the allegation against him was "downright nasty and vicious", had affected his business and could have ended his campaign.


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