19 Sep 2006

Party funding raises questions in Cooks

1:46 pm on 19 September 2006

Questions have been raised in the Cook Islands over more than 30,000 US dollars in funding being used by one of the political parties, the CIP.

A local newspaper, the Cook Islands Times, reports that the Democratic Party believes the money has come indirectly from a developer based in Wellington, Tim Tepaki.

They claim this puts the CIP under obligation to Mr Tepaki.

But the CIP Deputy leader, Tupou Faireka, says the money is a loan from a former Prime Minister, Robert Woonton:

"We believe this is personal money from Dr Woonton. We know that he was closely associated with Tim Tepaki and we have no idea whether the money came from Tim Tepaki of not, just that Dr Woonton offered that he is in a situation to loan us and therefore we agreed to it and entered into an agreement."

Mr Faireka says the party does not feel obliged in anyway to return any favours and would not enter any arrangement that would make them beholden to the donor.

But he says the party is short on funds and will only just have enough to last until the elections