Key, Joyce not keen on Dotcom Team NZ offer

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE, KIRSTY JOHNSTON AND SIMON PLUMB
Last updated 05:00 03/11/2013

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The Government has snubbed internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom's offer to help fund Team New Zealand's next America's Cup challenge, describing the million-dollar offer as "a PR campaign to stay in New Zealand".

But Team NZ appears to be taking Dotcom's offer seriously. It even sought approval from Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce to meet Dotcom after his offers of seven-figure donations and technological backing for another America's Cup campaign - to take on American software billionaire Larry Ellison and his reigning Oracle team.

Dalton, who leaves for a fundraising mission in Europe and the United States in less than a fortnight, said Dotcom's organisation has twice contacted him and a meeting was planned "at some point soon".

Dalton said he wasn't interested in any "covert discussions" with Dotcom, who has become a polarising figure since settling in New Zealand and a thorn in the side of John Key's government after revelations the Government Security Bureau had illegally spied on Dotcom.

With the Government granting Team NZ a $5m funding lifeline to keep the syndicate afloat until May, when it should be known whether another challenge for the cup is a reality, Dalton said he bounced the meeting past Joyce to protect any future government funding after the $36m they received from the Government for the last failed challenge.

"Any discussions that we have, from my point, would be completely open and transparent. I have no political agenda at all." Dalton said.

Dalton said he was "not a political animal" but given Dotcom was innocent until proven guilty of any crime in the US "I can't imagine why [the Government] would have a problem with that".

Dalton said Joyce had given him clearance for the meeting, while last night Joyce told the Star-Times the scale of Dotcom's offer was "insignificant". 

"I am not taking Mr Dotcom's proposal seriously. It's pretty transparent that this is all part of his ongoing PR campaign to stay in New Zealand," Joyce said.

"In any event, he's talking about less than two per cent of the likely cost of a campaign."

Dotcom said it was "great" the Dalton meeting could go ahead and he was looking forward to it.

"I'm surprised government needs to give permission," Dotcom said. "But I can understand [why Dalton would check]. The Government is a significant partner for Team NZ."

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