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America’s Cup organisers cleared of fraud claims

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A boat sails during America’s Cup J Class parade on June 17, 2017 in Hamilton, Bermuda. AFP

Wellington, New Zealand (AFP) – The New Zealand government cleared America’s Cup organisers of any wrongdoing Wednesday after a probe into claims of fraud and misappropriation of public funds surrounding the prestigious yacht race.

The government last month ordered forensic accountants to examine the finances of the regatta, which is due to be held in Auckland next year.

The accounting report found “there has been no financial impropriety of any nature”, a joint statement from the organisers and government said.

“We are pleased to have this behind us and ACE (Americas’s Cup Events) can now focus on putting on a great spectacle,” Team New Zealand (TNZ) chairman Stephen Tindall said.

TNZ, a privately owned racing syndicate, won hosting rights for the 2021 America’s Cup when it triumphed in Bermuda in 2017.

It is staging the 2021 regatta in Auckland via ACE with a hefty contribution from public funding.

The New Zealand 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.

The joint statement said accountants had some concerns around historical record keeping and there was a contractual dispute over yacht design work but nothing amounting to fraud.

It also confirmed there was an incident when online scammers persuade TNZ to transfer funds into a Hungarian bank account, but the loss was not being paid for by the public.

 

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