Prominent businessman’s trial: ‘He has enough money to buy people to survive’

A young man says he was bribed by a well-known entertainer to withdraw an indecent assault complaint against a wealthy businessman who “has enough money to buy people to survive”.

The Kiwi businessman, who has name suppression, is on trial in the High Court at Auckland, accused of indecently assaulting three men on separate occasions in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016.

He is also charged with twice attempting to pervert the course of justice by offering a bribe for the 2016 complainant to drop their allegations.

The accused denies the charges.

This afternoon, the jury heard a covert recording of a meeting between the 2016 complainant and an entertainer, who has interim name suppression.

It came just two months after the businessman was first charged with indecently assaulting the young man at the rich-lister’s home in October 2016.

The entertainer organised a lunch meeting in April 2017 with the complainant, who recorded the conversation on his phone.

The entertainer described themselves as the person to fix the situation and recommended the complainant talk to a well-known Auckland barrister, who also has name suppression.

He explained the lawyer was known for helping boys in trouble.

“Sometimes the system is just so against you,” the entertainer can be heard saying.

“That’s why you can make the whole thing, if you want to, disappear.”

The entertainer asked of the man: “You’ve made the accusation haven’t you? Well if you want to withdraw [the lawyer will] go with you, like all the others.

“Absolve it, get rid of it, let’s get you started on this career, and let me ascertain some funds from [the businessman] – which won’t be hard, I can assure you of that.”

The entertainer can be heard later saying: “He has enough money to buy people to survive.”

The entertainer has already pleaded guilty to two charges of attempting to pervert the course of justice for attempting to have the complainant withdraw their allegations, including during an incident described by the Crown as the Gold Coast plot.

He is due to be sentenced next month.

Giving evidence via video link from Australia today, the complainant told the court he was also offered a $15,000 cheque from the entertainer, which he was told would clear once he withdrew his allegations.

The young man said he was initially introduced to the businessman by the entertainer after moving to New Zealand from Australia.

He picked the businessman’s brain about career moves and was offered a room at his house in Auckland.

“It felt like the right thing to do, it felt like the right place to be,” the young man told the court.

“For me it was ticking all the boxes and it was a humbling moment for me to receive such generosity.”

However, one night in October 2016, the young man said he fell ill from food poisoning.

While trying to sleep it off in one of the guest rooms, he said, the rich-lister walked in naked.

“He said, ‘you can’t sleep here you need to go back to your room’.

“He then rephrased and said, ‘you should come to my room’.”

The complainant added the wealthy Kiwi had made earlier sexually suggestive remarks to him.

After moving to another room, the young man said the businessman began knocking on his door.

“I just wanted him to go back to his room, I just wanted to have some peace.”

The businessman entered the room and crawled onto the bed alongside the young man, the court heard.

“At this point my mind is running a thousand miles an hour,” the complainant said.

“Do I just lie here and let this man take advantage of me and abuse me or do I call for help? Do I defend myself?

“I didn’t have the strength to defend myself. My stomach was in knots so I’m in a hunched position on my side.”

The businessman allegedly said: “Embrace me, let me embrace you.”

The complainant said the rich-lister began fondling him before he fought back with an elbow and jab. He also made an attempt to call for help on his cellphone.

“Embrace me, let me embrace you,” the businessman allegedly uttered again.

The complainant said it was “almost like he enjoyed me trying to fight or resist his embrace”.

The young man fled the room to another guest at the home before vomiting several times.

He was later taken to hospital by the other guest and told nurses about the alleged indecent assault before being interviewed by police.

The prominent Kiwi’s manager, who also has name suppression, is also on trial and jointly faces a charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice for attempting to dissuade the 2016 complainant.

The trial is expected to last about five weeks.

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