INDEPENDENT NEWS

Govt must come clean on Contact payout

Published: Tue 23 Nov 1999 03:57 PM
"Contact Energy has postponed its annual general meeting by a month to avoid pre-election revelations of the pay-out to its chief executive, Paul Anthony, after the company was privatised earlier this year," Labour energy spokesperson Pete Hodgson said today.
"Contact Energy is declining to confirm an earlier agm date ever existed. However I am aware that about two months ago at least one Minister was briefed on the potential damage if the company, by then in private hands, held its agm in the last week of December.
"The timing is critical because share market rules require that share holders be given access to the annual report within 20 working days of the agm.
"Estimates as to the amount paid to Mr Anthony range from around $2 million to as high as $4 million. The payment was made after Contact Energy was sold into the private sector but the issue for the Government is that it was made to honour an agreement negotiated when the enterprise was still in public ownership.
"That means the buck stops with the Minister of State Owned Enterprises, Tony Ryall, and the Minister previously responsible for Contact Energy, Lockwood Smith. I challenge them to come clean on the details of the deal," Mr Hodgson said.
"The people of Central Otago will be particularly aggrieved to learn that such a payment was made given that the money would have been most useful as a down payment on the clean-up following the floods.
"This is especially true of the flood victims in Alexandra where silting created by Contact's Roxburgh dam is known to have been a contributing cause for the flooding," Mr Hodgson said.

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