Bribes and body bags discussed on secret recording in trial of rich lister accused of indecent assault

Bribes and body bags can be heard being discussed in a secret late-night recording at an Auckland bar that has been released to 1 NEWS.

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The prosecution claims the group’s discussing how to stop a witness giving evidence. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes in the trial of a rich businessman accused of indecently assaulting men. He and his manager are also accused of attempting to stop a witness from giving testimony.

Both pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The High Court heard the recording was made after associates of the businessman - a prominent PR manager, a friend, and a well-known entertainer flew to Australia in 2017 to meet with one of the complainants - had already gone to the police in New Zealand.

Posing as talent agents from New York, they “lured” the complainant to the Palazzo Versace hotel on the Gold Coast, where they discussed work opportunities. But it came with a catch - travel back to New Zealand and withdraw the police complaint.

The complainant did not - the trio returned to New Zealand.

After arriving back in the country, the PR agent, his associate, and the rich lister's manager met and spent time at Family Bar on Auckland’s Karangahape Road.

The associate of the PR agent - both of whom have immunity from prosecution - secretly recorded the conversation on her phone.

The recording has been played in court - but the audio file has been supplied to 1 NEWS today for broadcast for the first time.

"My friend's Samoan. He'll either (inaudible) or put him in a body bag. You decide which," the PR agent can be heard saying in the recording.

"I refuse for either of us, and hopefully you've got the same for yourself, to go to jail for this s**t," he later said.

The manager can also be heard "joking" about sending the complainant to Turkey.

"Just jokingly, I was like why don't we just sent [the complainant] on a trip to Turkey?" he is heard saying.

"... Istanbul traffic accident, gypsies there are cheap man, they do it for $200 US."

The trio also spend time discussing money, including the PR agent's fee and how much it might cost to find the complainant a job - in exchange for withdrawing his complaint.

“I knew we were already up to our eyeballs,” the associate told the court, when asked by Crown Prosecutor, Simon Foote, why she made the recording.

“I wanted to make sure I had some evidence.”

The existence of the recording was only disclosed to the police in March 2019 on the eve of an earlier trial of the businessman.

“I thought I had deleted it,” she told the court yesterday.

Defence lawyer Rachael Reed suggested the recording had been edited.

“You went into it and edited it almost a week before you told [the police] about it,” she said to the witness.

The 2019 trial was aborted, and the reasons why were suppressed.