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Love found guilty

NZN 31/08/2016 Sophie Boot

Former Treaty of Waitangi negotiator Sir Ngatata Love has been found guilty of obtaining significant sums by deception in the High Court fraud trial over his dealings with property developers while chairman of the Wellington Tenths Trust.

An alternate charge of receiving secret commissions didn't succeed. The verdict was delivered on Thursday by Justice Graham Lang after the month-long hearing in Wellington.

The charges came from an investigation into a $1.5 million payment from a land developer into a trust controlled by Love's partner, Lorraine Skiffington, which was then used to repay a property loan on a Plimmerton house he and Skiffington co-owned.

Justice Lang said the conviction would be deferred until sentencing.

Love had sheeted the blame home to Skiffington, who he claimed had acted without his knowledge, and also blamed Shaan Stevens, a consultant who worked alongside Skiffington and Love.

The verdict marks a fall from grace for the Wellington insider who was made a Principal Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to Maori in 2008, later upgraded to a knighthood, and who was able to call up high-profile character witnesses during the trial.

He was said to be a close confidante of Helen Clark on Maori issues when she was prime minister.

Skiffington was also charged but has been granted a permanent stay due to her ill health, while Ngatata Love's son Matene Love had already pleaded guilty to accepting a secret commission.

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