Police meet Horan estate executor

INDEPENDENT: Former television weatherman turned MP Brendan Horan.
INDEPENDENT: Former television weatherman turned MP Brendan Horan.

Independent MP Brendan Horan's woes over allegations he took money from his mother are not over, with police now involved.

Fairfax Media has learned that a senior Tauranga detective met with the executor of Olwen Horan's estate, John Buckthought, yesterday. Another meeting is scheduled for later in the month.

Police are assessing whether to begin an investigation into the allegations, after Horan's former political boss Winston Peters wrote to the Serious Fraud Office in November about what he believed was a ''very serious case of potential fraud involving a sitting Member of Parliament''.

The SFO wrote back in December saying it was referring the case to police because the amount involved was less than its $2m threshold and there was nothing to suggest it was a complex fraud, another criteria for an investigation.

Peters said in his letter that the threshold should not apply because of the public interest involved and there were a number of precedents, including the investigation into MP Donna Huata in 2003 and donations to NZ First in 2008.

The SFO agreed there was a degree of public interest, and it would provide forensic accounting support to police if they decided to open an investigation.

Horan claimed yesterday that a report by Buckthought had cleared him of any wrongdoing.

The report says that legal fees and threats were eating up what was left of the estate and Buckthought believed it was best to settle the dispute for the other beneficiaries.

Buckthought would not comment today, nor would Tauranga police.

Horan initially said the suggestion police had been to see the executor was ''a lot of nonsense'', but then called back to say he was going to call the police and offer his help.

''He's [Winston Peters] so desperate, he's got egg all over his face, he's completely lost credibility, and he's going backwards fast.

"So now he has made a complaint to the Serious Fraud Office who weren't interested, and he's made a complaint to the police, and the police have a duty to investigate any complaint.

"So Winston Peters is wasting the police's time on this, because Mr Buckthought did a complete investigation and I have been exonerated.

"So I am going to ring the police and offer them every assistance possible so that the public will see exactly what a loser Winston Peters is.'' 

Olwen Horan, a million-dollar lottery winner, signed a codicil amendment to her will a month before she died in 2012 authorising Buckthought to retrieve money loaned to Brendan Horan and his sister or ''taken by misadventure''.

Her bank balance went from $259,000 in 2007 to less than $3000 before she died. Bank statements showed Olwen Horan's cards were used all over the North Island, at petrol stations, supermarkets, liquor outlets and for accommodation, and that tens of thousands of dollars were withdrawn from ATMs and banks using her eftpos and credit cards. 

Brendan Horan's half-brothers, Mana Ormsby and Peter Horan, accused him of spending much of the money on horses, but Horan said his mother was a big spender who liked to bet at the TAB herself.

Peters said in his letter to the SFO that he believed there was sufficient evidence to begin an investigation and the public had a right to know the truth.

The fact that Olwen Horan signed the codicil supported the family's belief that the money had been misappropriated, he wrote.