New Zealand legislator sent for trial on corruption charges
A Member of the New Zealand Parliament, Philip Field, was committed for trial on bribery and corruption charges on Friday, after a judge ruled a four-week pre-trial hearing had proved he had a case to answer, news reports said.
Field, a Samoan New Zealander who has the chiefly title Taito, is alleged to have given immigration assistance to a number of Thai people in return for work they did on seven houses he owned in New Zealand, Samoa and Tonga for little or no pay, dpa reported.
Field will go on trial in July facing 15 charges of bribery and corruption and 25 charges of perverting the course of justice during an official inquiry into his behaviour.
Some Thai witnesses alleged during the Manukau District Court hearing that Field, who they knew as "Big Dad," had asked them to lie to the independent lawyer who conducted the inquiry.
Field, who is the first New Zealand legislator to be charged with bribery and corruption, has maintained his innocence throughout and said he intends to fight to regain his seat at the general election due later this year.
Facing a seven-year prison sentence on the charges, he can remain in parliament until he is found guilty.
Field, a former government minister who has been in parliament since 1993, resigned from the ruling Labour Party last year as it was on the point of expelling him.