New Zealand froze payments to America’s Cup organisers on Thursday as officials investigate fraud claims in the lead-up to next year’s regatta in Auckland, according to Raw Story.
Government officials said they had suspended payments to America’s Cup Events Limited (ACE), the private company organising the race, following allegations of spying and misuse of public money.
In a statement, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) said: ““We are not intending to make further payments to ACE. This will be revisited pending the outcome of the process.” The ministry has previously said it was investigating “structural and financial matters” surrounding the organization of the race but provided no further details.
ACE is a subsidiary of Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ), the racing syndicate who won hosting rights for the 2021 America’s Cup when it triumphed in Bermuda in 2017.
ETNZ managing director Grant Dalton has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and complained this week about his organization being infiltrated by spies.
After the government’s announcement, ETNZ said it had no problem with funds being suspended.
“ACE and Emirates Team New Zealand in fact support the government in holding funds until the process is complete and we have closed out all issues,” it tweeted with mixed response.
The New Zealand Herald said late Thursday that TNZ’s lawyers were granted an interim High Court injunction to prevent the NZ Herald from publishing details of a Crown-commissioned report into the spending of public money.
The MBIE statement revealed that the government was withholding NZ$11 million ($7.2 million), part of a NZ$40 million ($26 million) “hosting fee” paid to ACE.
The government and Auckland Council have poured a combined total of around NZ$250 million ($163 million) into the America’s Cup, which dates back to 1851.