Key participant sentenced in ‘elaborate, outrageous and cynical plan’ to prevent Rich-lister facing justice

A rich-lister’s manager has been sentenced after helping the prominent businessman try to dissolve an indecent assault allegation in an “elaborate, outrageous and cynical plan”.

The man, who continues to have interim name suppression, appeared today in the High Court at Auckland after being found guilty of attempting to dissuade a complainant with bribes of future work opportunities from giving evidence.

Justice Geoffrey Venning imposed a period of 12 months’ home detention.

The rich-lister was found guilty by a jury earlier this year of indecently assaulting three victims in the early 2000s, 2008 and 2016.

The businessman, who has interim name suppression, was also convicted of twice attempting to corrupt the 2016 victim- the first complainant to go to police – to drop their claims.

The prominent businessman’s sentencing, however, has been delayed because of health concerns. He is now due to be sentenced on May 27.

The manager was implicated in what became known as the Gold Coast plot after meeting with New Zealand entertainer and actor Mika X and PR consultant Jevan Goulter to discuss potential solutions to the rich-lister’s legal woes.

Crown prosecutor Simon Foote QC told the court today the conspirators were involved in an “elaborate, outrageous and cynical plan” to prevent a powerful man facing justice.

He said the manager was a “key participant in the plot” and met with Goulter sometime before May 15, 2017 to scheme and inquire about costs.

“He knew full well the purpose of the mission,” Foote said.

The manager’s lawyer, Rachael Reed QC, said her client was an employee and agent of the rich-lister but was vulnerable to a new and respected employer.

“He does accept he should have never have involved himself,” she said.

The rich-lister told his jury he hired Goulter’s firm, Goulter & Associates, to manage potential reputational damage issues after hearing rumours he would be named in Australia media.

However, the jury did not believe his story. Instead the politically-connected Goulter described in evidence how he was hired to help stop the 2016 complainant, now living in Australia, from testifying in court.

Foote said the “so called PR consultants” were used to create distance between the criminality of the plan and the rich-lister.

When meetings were held the manager assured Goulter not to worry about payment because his boss had “dollars in the bank”, jurors heard.

Payments – in all totalling $56,000 – were made to Goulter, either directly from accounts linked to the businessman or via an entity associated with his manager.

Goulter, his friend and associate Allison Edmonds, and Mika – who was linked to the rich-lister through a business deal – flew to Brisbane in late May 2017. Their plan was to offer the victim a work contract, endorsed by the businessman, in exchange for the police complaint being withdrawn.

Goulter and Edmonds posed as talent agents from New York to lure the victim to a meeting on the Gold Coast. Their conversation with the victim was recorded by Edmonds on a balcony of the five-star Palazzo Versace hotel.

But the plot failed and the victim told Anthony Darvill, the detective in charge of the investigation into the businessman, about the approach. The recording was later played to the jury.

Less than 24 hours after returning to Auckland, the manager met with Goulter and Edmonds at Family Bar on Karangahape Rd.

Edmonds again recorded the conversation, which would only emerge nearly two years later halfway through the businessman’s first trial in March 2019 – resulting in an abortion.

The Family Bar conversation was unfiltered and explosive as the group discussed the ongoing conspiracy. Justice Venning said if there was any doubt about the manager’s involvement it was confirmed at the meeting.

He said while the manager was acting as a middleman it was an important role in an effort to influence a vulnerable victim.

During the Family Bar meeting, Goulter raised the prospect of intimidating the victim to “make sure he can’t turn up” to court.

The manager, who confirmed during the recording he was acting on behalf of the businessman, said if the victim had a “comprehensive hold on reality” they would accept a reasonable offer.

Goulter and the manager appeared confident of reaching a resolution but also alluded to “scare tactics” to finish the job if required.

“It’s not a nice tactic though, so … I don’t think we need to go down that path, what I’m wanting to know is, does [the businessman] want to spend money, a little bit of money, on an opportunity or does he want us to scare the f**king shit out of him and potentially instigate something?” Goulter asked.

Referring to the rich-lister, the manager replied: “The only thing that pisses him off and makes him get cold feet is when he feels like it’s a slippery slope and it won’t get a resolution.”

He said the businessman would be reluctant to part with more money without a guarantee of a successful operation after he was “burnt by Mika” on the first mission. Mika had made an initial attempt to bribe the victim with a $15,000 cheque during a meeting at an Auckland cafe in April 2017 but it failed and was covertly recorded by the victim.

The manager said during the Family Bar meeting: “[The businessman’s] happy to bleed if it gets resolved but he’s like thinking, it’s never getting resolved, I’m just going to keep bleeding and we’re going to end up in court with everyone knowing.”

The manager, seemingly jokingly, also mentioned a conversation he had with the businessman about sending the victim to Turkey to have him killed.

“… you know, we going to put you in Istanbul, traffic accident, Gypsies there are cheap man, they do [it] for two hundred US, you know like, we jokingly talked about it, [the businessman] laughed and was like, ‘this is not funny’, so, I don’t know,” he said.

In an astonishing part of the recording, the group also acknowledges what they are doing is criminal.

“I didn’t realise it was seven years,” the manager said.

Edmonds replies: “Yes, you can look it up … Perverting the course of justice, absolutely, it carries a minimum …”

Goulter said: “Yeah, you’re implicated, you’re seriously implicated.”

Conspiring to defeat justice carries a term not exceeding seven years’ imprisonment in New Zealand.

Both Goulter and Edmonds were granted immunity from prosecution by the Solicitor-General in exchange for their evidence. Their immunity was reviewed after the emergence of the Family Bar tape but the Crown did not revoke the deal.

Mika, also known as Mika Haka, pleaded guilty to two charges of attempting to dissuade and bribe the 2016 indecent assault victim from giving evidence and was sentenced in March to 11 months’ home detention.

The rich-lister’s lawyer, David Jones QC, has indicated his client, who claimed he was the victim of a blackmailing circuit, will appeal his convictions.

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