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Advance NZ accused of using bank account to hide overseas donations

The Advance New Zealand Party is being accused of using a bank account to hide donations being sent from overseas.

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The bank belongs to a component party which has donors from both New Zealand and overseas. Source: 1 NEWS

1 NEWS has discovered the party led by Jami-Lee Ross and Billy Te Kahika has a bank account that isn't covered by the electoral law.

The account belongs to a component party with donors from both New Zealand and overseas.

Ross and Te Kahika have been campaigning online and gaining traction with well-known American anti-vaccine activists.

Now there is an allegation that Advance New Zealand is taking money from the movement to help discredit New Zealand's Covid-19 response.

1 NEWS spoke to a man who is part of a group that monitors conspiracy theorists who said donations have come from the United States.

“We know that some US anti-vax people have donated. Is that being used for the election or is that being used for something else? We don't know," he says. 

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Ross, however, says there have been no donations linked to any American interests.

Facebook posts suggest the party is asking people to donate to a bank account under the name of the Public Party.

It was set up by Billy Te Kahika, it's unregistered and unlike Advance New Zealand doesn't have to declare where it gets its money from.

Andrew Geddis, a law professor at the University of Otago, says there is a limit to how much overseas donors are allowed to give Advance New Zealand.

“The New Zealand Public Party can receive as much money from overseas as it likes but it can only give $50 per overseas person to the Advance New Zealand Party - that’s the maximum it’s allowed to pass over,” Geddis says.

Anything more would need to be handed back to the donor or would be in breach of the Electoral Act.

“We are treating them as donations to Advance New Zealand - if we are at risk of doing anything it will be over-disclosing,” Ross says.

Last year the law was changed to help close off international interference in our elections, but the latest allegation is raising more concerns about whether our laws go far enough.