Cash, Cars, Conflict and Commercial Radio Stations – Part III

Part III in a special Whaleoil blog investigation

Part I and Part II

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So what of MBIE?

Apparently all the facts in the first two parts of my series have been raised by Mr Khan with MBIE.  They have not replied in any satisfactory way in monitoring radio licensing, which forced Radio Tarana to take costly legal action.

There are serious questions to answer as to why CFS and the Algie Family Trust were involved as intermediaries to cash transactions to shuffle facilitate money into 5TUNZ.  Was it a loan? A gift? Financial assistance? Why was it not declared in statutory returns?

The cash from Lodhia could simply have been deposited into Mr and Mrs Prasads personal bank account (if it really was a personal gift or a loan for a private purpose) or directly into 5TUNZ (if it was a gift or a loan for the use of the business).

Was the money used to attempt to externally make 5TUNZ appear more solvent than it was?  Or internally to make it look more indebted?

Let us go back to Mr Lodhia’s very concise confident comment to me:

“My only obligation and financial interest is in Radio Tarana”.    Read more »

Cash, Cars, Conflict and Commercial Radio Stations – Part II

Part II of a special Whaleoil blog investigation

Part I

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What is the problem?

Putting aside the local and continuous content issues, in statutory declarations to MBIE who oversee the licences, 5TUNZ must declare all funding received. Mr Lodhia paid $70,000 in cash through to the Prasad’s and it is alleged none of this was declared when it should have been.  MBIE seem unconcerned to date with this.  

I asked the obviously generous and wealthy Mr Lodhia if it would be normal for him to pay five figured loans to friends undocumented in cash. This was the only question the otherwise cheerful and friendly gentleman refused to answer and specifically asked me to move along.  As a “decent journalist trained and skilled” it is only natural that I did not and looked even closer at the issues at hand.

Mr Lodhia’s cash didn’t go straight in the 5TUNZ bank account at all, all three installments were channeled into a family trust of the CFS CEO Kevin Algie and CFS itself, a company that finances second hand car purchases.  It may not be unusual for people in the Indian community to carry large amounts of cash but the “all my peoples trade in cash” defence is known not to work in the year 2014 when explaining away the placement stage of allegations of money laundering or answering to MBIE or making statutory declarations.

I asked Mr Lodhia if he helped the otherwise green owners with actually how to run a radio station.  I know from my time in the media that running a radio station does not look that easy.  Mrs Prasad had only recently graduated from AUT and Mr Prasad is a used car salesman. Mr Lodhia commented that they had “someone” in the industry helping them.   He did not name that person.  This is obviously a fight Mr Lodhia does not much wish to get involved in, he claimed that he felt he was more obliged to help because it was his idea they front the radio station in the first place and “once their set up was done I moved away, I said it’s your baby now I wish you all the best”.   Read more »

Cars, Cash, Conflict And Commercial Radio Stations – Part I

A special three part Whaleoil blog investigation

As you all should know by now I have a special interest in matters arising from Fiji and all matters to do with media.  The buzz in the local Auckland Fijian Indian community as of late is a right legal donnybrook brewing in the High Court between Robert Khan of NZ’s Number 1 Hindi station, Radio Tarana and Roshila and Satyandra Prasad, currently operating as Radio Humm.  What makes it all the spicier is that in the middle of the fight is the Honorary Consul for Fiji influential Auckland businessman, Harish Lodhia and a curiously complex trail of ownership, cash and loans.

All happening under the watchful yet seemingly lazy eye of MBIE.

Mr Lodhia leases 1386AM to Radio Tarana under a Full Commercial Licence.  He then has intertwined dealings with the registered owners of 5TUNZ, the company that operates Radio Humm on 106.2FM under a Local Commercial Licence.

At the heart of the matter is that local commercial licences are less expensive but more restrictive than full commercial licences and overseen by MBIE.  Mr Khan’s cost base therefore is higher than the Prasad’s and he operates under different rules.

Publicly available documents outline the dispute surrounding Mr Khan’s allegations that Radio Humm is failing in its statutory obligations under its Local Commercial Licence not only a) in terms of the required local content but b) commonality of ownership and the sometimes invisible hand of Harish Lodhia.

The 5TUNZ local commercial licence does not permit cross-ownership in a full commercial licence such as  Mr Lodhia’s 1386AM.

Radio Humm is directed more at the youth market and Mr Khan alleges that rather than have the required local content it is “predominantly international Bollywood and that does not fulfil the continuous broadcasting obligations”.  It is also alleged that Humm doesn’t meet local programming obligations.   Read more »

Is money important in elections? New research suggests it is

In New Zealand, despite no evidence to support the contention that money has a massive influence in politics the Labour party passed the draconian and anti-democratic Electoral Finance Act.

The evidence in NZ is actually contrary to the opinion that money in politics can sway results. The Act party for instance spent a great deal more than any other party for a negligible return, same with Colin Craig. On the other hand the unions pour money into Labour’s coffers and get a good return on their investment.

In Fiji the news electoral laws forbid anyone or organisation other than natural persons from donating to political parties or candidates. This stops corporates and the unions donating.

Meanwhile the left wing continues to push for state funding of political parties, a system that rewards incumbency. They don;t want to have to bother with pesky things like members and sausage sizzles and cake stalls.

And of course there is Kim Dotcom who is making the mistake many wealthy business people make in entering politics, thinking that money can buy you votes.

In the United States however there is building evidence that big money, and by big I mean BIG, can and does make a difference in campaigning. Apparently 91% of the time the better resourced candidate wins.

There are few talking points more beloved by underdog political candidates (and their aides) than to declare that money doesn’t matter. (If it did, Steve Forbes would be the president!)

Well, they’re wrong — at least most of the time.

Take a look at the chart below, created last month by Jasper McChesney, a designer at United Republic, a nonpartisan nonprofit that tries to spread awareness about the influence of money in politics.   Read more »

Fiji travel bans lifted, what did they actually achieve?


The government has finally lifted the Fiji travel bans:

New Zealand is lifting travel sanctions against Fiji, Foreign Minister Murray McCully has confirmed.

In a statement, McCully said the progress Fiji was making towards holding free and fair elections deserved recognition from the Pacific region and international community.

“There are now more than 500,000 people registered to vote in the September elections, electoral commissioners have been appointed and importantly Commodore Bainimarama has stepped down as the head of the Military.

“The visit by the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group in February was a success and the Commonwealth recently acknowledged the progress that Fiji is making.

“Last week the electoral decree was published, an Elections Supervisor appointed, and the 17th of September was announced as the election date.”

As a consequence New Zealand would end all remaining travel sanctions and would also remove all remaining restrictions on New Zealand Government departments working directly with their Fiji counterparts.

Which is all good, but one wonders what they actually achieved. These sanctions certainly never deterred the government of Fiji from progressing to a true democracy, with one person one vote, and a proper census, complete photo id voter registration and the removal of the electoral rort of the Great Council of Chiefs.   Read more »

The Huddle


I was on NewstalkZB this evening with Larry Williams and his show The Huddle. With me was another pinko, arts and travel blogger David Farrar.

Our topics were:

The polls are out and the Mana Party’s still willing to sell it’s soul (if it has one) to get in with Kim Dotcom – all because Dotcom doesn’t like John Key. There’s been a bit of an  improvement for NZ First – is that because people are forgetting his track record. (A high probability given the age of the NZ First support base!)

Then the travel ban for Fiji has been lifted. This leads the way to full democratic elections in September. For all his bad though, it appears Bainimarama has kept things relatively stable and is popular amongst the peeps and likely to win.   Read more »

The Huddle at 1740


I am on NewstalkZB this evening with Larry Williams and his show The Huddle. With me will be another pinko, arts and travel blogger David Farrar.

Our topics will be:

The polls are out and the Mana Party’s still willing to sell it’s soul (if it has one) to get in with Kim Dotcom – all because Dotcom doesn’t like John Key. There’s been a bit of an  improvement for NZ First – is that because people are forgetting his track record. (A high probability given the age of the NZ First support base!)  Read more »

New poll puts Bainimarama way out in front


A new poll by the Fiji Sun has current Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama well in front ahead of elections later in the year.

The Fiji Sun reports:

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama is an overwhelming early leader as preferred Prime Minister. That’s according to the first FIJI SUN Poll for the general elections.

The polls are to be conducted weekly until the general elections by the CJP Pacific/Razor market research teams. The first week of polling conducted in the week till February 21 reflects similar results in a trial poll conducted the previous week.  Read more »

ABC in Australia deliberately scaremongering over Fiji


Listen to this story filed by Bruce Hill of the ABC in which he interviews Samisoni Pareti who is well known as being extremely anti government.

This sort of story based on hearsay and innuendo is dangerous…mainly because it is so wrong but also in a way that could seriously affect tourism…not that Bruce Hill cares too much about that.

At the end of the interview Pareti says that he has seen nothing in the papers about dengue fever. Perhaps he should open his eyes.

The Fijian Ministry of Information have released 11 press releases which go to Bruce Hill and RNZI keeping them updated, there are at least 20 articles in the local media on Dengue Fever, only today the entire front page was talking about the stats and the dangers. The Fiji Ministry of Information even has a Facebook page that openly talks about dengue fever.   Read more »

Time for an Independent Commission of Corruption

In Australia the unions and the Labor party stand charged with many, many counts of political corruption. In Australia they have an institution with teeth, the powers to compel evidence, the powers to prosecute…it is called the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Fiji also has an Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Why not here?

With the latest revelations of political corruption involving the Labour party, from David Cunliffe on down, Shane Taurima who is a prospective Labour party candidate and TVNZ, we are seeing and extension of the willingness of the left-wing to abandon any semblance of ethics in journalism and corrupt their organisation like Alistair Thompson has done to Scoop Media.

For years the left-wing has accused the right of collusion and corruption with the media, and now we are seeing month after month of left-wing politicians prostituting and prostrating themselves before the altar of corruption.

The Herald reports on the latest fiasco:

TVNZ unit manager Shane Taurima has resigned from the state broadcaster after revelations he took part in a Labour Party hui and that TVNZ facilities were used to host Labour Party meetings.

3 News reported tonight that TVNZ offices were used to host a meeting of Labour’s Tamaki Makaurau branch last year. TVNZ staff emails were also used to organise a subsequent hui in January this year which Labour leader David Cunliffe attended. Mr Taurima, the head of TVNZ’s Maori and Pacific unit, had acted as a facilitator and spoken about the Maori vote at that January hui.  Read more »