'Worrying' move, Feeley says

Former Serious Fraud Office head Adam Feeley says it would be ''worrying development for New Zealand'' if businessman Mark Hotchin funded a smear campaign against him.

Justice Minister Judith Collins resigned on Saturday after emails written by Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater said she was ''gunning for Feeley''.

Weekend newspaper reports suggested the emails showed Mr Hotchin funded a blogger-led campaign to undermine the SFO, Mr Feeley and the Financial Markets Authority, at a time when they were investigating the businessman's collapsed Hanover Finance.

In an emailed statement to the Otago Daily Times, Mr Feeley, now Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive, assured investors in collapsed finance companies that he was not influenced by popular opinion over whether to pursue charges.

''And I think they should be confident all other directors have operated the same way,'' he said.

''If there is any substance to the allegations, then it is a very worrying development ...

''It's not that law enforcement would bow to that behaviour, but it is not an environment that public servants should have to operate in.''

Mr Feeley, who took a $35,000 salary cut to take his $305,000-a-year QLDC role, said he left the SFO reluctantly, having enjoyed the team, but living in Arrowtown was a big drawcard.

Prime Minister John Key has announced an inquiry will be held into the smear allegations. Mr Feeley said he would not speculate or comment until the facts came out.

But he saved some barbs for Mr Slater, who he said ''has been exposed for the kind of standards he operates under''.

Last night, Mr Slater replied: ''He's a sanctimonious hypocrite because he was caught nicking a bottle of wine, and I don't see how he thinks that he can somehow walk away from that unscathed.''

Mr Feeley apologised to his then minister, Ms Collins, in 2011, for encouraging SFO staff to drink from a bottle of wine taken from the offices of collapsed finance company Bridgecorp at a staff party.

By David Williams. 


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