15 Mar 2017

NZer in Trump's inner circle accused of conflict of interest

6:42 pm on 15 March 2017

A New Zealander is at the centre of new accusations about conflicts of interest in US President Donald Trump's inner circle.

Christopher and Renee Liddell at an exhibition opening in New York in 2015.

Chris Liddell Photo: AFP

Chris Liddell is a former chief executive of Carter Holt Harvey and has held senior positions at Microsoft and General Motors.

He is currently Director of Strategic Initiatives in the Trump White House and one of the president's closest aides.

Mr Liddell has now been accused of a conflict of interest, after attending meetings with the president that were also attended by leaders from 10 companies Mr Liddell held stock in.

Washington lobby group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has complained to the White House that Mr Liddell might have broken criminal conflict of interest laws.

The group's executive director, Noah Bookbinder, said Mr Liddell's attendance of a meeting with carmakers seemed an obvious conflict of interest.

"That's one where there clearly appeared to be discussion of specific policy issues that could affect those companies in which Liddell appears to have owned stocks at the time."

Mr Liddell appeared to have taken steps to divest himself of his shares, but not until after the meetings took place, Mr Bookbinder said.

The White House said it was working to ensure he was fully compliant with his ethical and legal obligations.