Mystery request to move funds

LUCY TOWNEND
Last updated 09:00 18/01/2014

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A request for Massey University Extramural Students' Society's $200,000 nest egg to be moved into a mysterious trust has been filed, with no-one able to say what the money will be used for.

Finding the reason for the request has proved difficult as trustees and the university either cannot be reached or are refusing to comment.

The trust, called Massey University Extramural Student Trust (MEST), was set up by the ousted EXMSS president Jeannette Chapman. The Manawatu Standard understands Ms Chapman set up the trust in October - the same month a vote of no-confidence was placed in her presidency.

The society's new co-presidents, Tiri Porter and Mark Lester, were appointed in her place and have been trying to unravel a raft of problems relating to the society since her ousting.

Ms Porter is a trustee of the Extramural Students' Support Trust (ESST), a subtrust set up in 2011 under the Massey University Foundation to hold money related to extramural students' scholarships distributed by EXMSS.

She was alerted to MEST through an application filed by Ms Chapman, who is a trustee, asking for more than $200,000 of EXMSS money to be moved into it.

Ms Porter has seen the deed, but the trust is not registered with the Companies Office or the Charities Commission and has not been granted charitable status.

The Massey University Foundation, which provides scholarships and supports research projects on behalf of the university, would have the final sign off for fund transactions.

A Massey University spokesman said the institute had not given permission for its name to be used in conjunction with MEST. Because it is a "legal matter", neither Massey nor the foundation would comment.

EXMMS's executive, under the leadership of former president Ralph Springett, created a three-year strategic plan for the association's financial operations in 2012.

It registered $400,000 in capital, deposited $200,000 with the Massey University Foundation as a nest egg for safe holding and another $200,000 was to be used on getting EXMSS to break even in 2015.

Interest from the foundation was then used for extramural student scholarships, which equated to about $6000 annually.

Some assets to date have been unaccounted for, with EXMSS's new executive unable to access financial records until this week after law firm Fitzherbert Rowe cleared concerns regarding the overthrowing of Ms Chapman.

The $200,000 remains in the Massey Foundation despite requests for it to be released, Ms Porter said.

The Standard has repeatedly tried to contact Ms Chapman for comment, but she has not returned calls, has since left her office and her landline and cellphone have been disconnected.

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- Manawatu Standard

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