NZ Truth , Issue 196, 20 March 1909, Page 7
Did Be Use I aside Knowledge? Tommy Taylor, <j&LP., may have "his faults, but he his don©, a great public service by exposing the methods adopted m the disposal oE the Lyttelton Harbor i Board's funds, transactions which may be periecUy legal, but which would on no account; have been tolerated .'by the public Mad. the facts been, made known earlie/b. '.'faylor arose at "the Board's last meeting qv< openly accused the. present Qfcairijaan, H. Freidlander, of using inside knowledge as a member of the finance committee to benefit himself financially/ In the' middlte of 1907 the Board fo/ind itself m the unusual position of b/aving £15,000 to invest, and practicably before tbepab&c could.^become aware of the fact an /appiicaijjfon ;wa y j ade for .it by a company of which Frietr.lander. was a director (l&yior said he j /as chairman of the «ompaiiy) m respect of a property at Unity/ m the 'Auckland district, ..It 4s a surprising circumstance that the .Haxbor Board, of iV/hich Friedlahder was d member, em"ployed J.Lambie, another member of the Harbor Board, to go up jtod yaliie the property-, .instead of obtaining the services of an independent valuer. The fact that he valued the property at a sum m excess of the Government/ valuation is very interesting. As Taj^oi remarked, the property might be worth more than the Government vacation, but it was ,an extremely dangerous tiling ,to allow the members of a local body having inside (knowledge of money;available to become parties to an application for the cash, particulalry when a (member of the Board was applying for the loan, and another member of the Board ,was employed to make a valuation of the property. The money .was lent, and i-was actually PAID INTO FRIEDLANDER'S BANK at Ashburton. A .few months later another sum of £10,000 belonging to the Board became available -for investment, and again before the public could become I thoroughly awure of the fact, Friedlander applied for the coin, on behalf of a person at Ashburton, whase property was valued by the (j-ovwrnment at &10,550 only. .Once more member Lambie officiated as valuer. Friedlander's practice of taking the Board's surplus funds fpr investment was fast developing into a habit, when, to wards the end of 1907, another £5000 bee ame available to the public. Friedlan der, who, it might be mentioned to im press the fact thoroughly -.on the memorjj, was chairman of the finance comrriittee and is. now chairman of; the Board, kept his eye on the cash and instrui febed the treasurer to let him/ know if aiiy application ,was made for At. The trcisurer replied that solicitors Beswick and IHarris wanted it m respect of a property inOtago or Southland. Friedlander, chairman of the finance committee, t&e in .appointed Lambie, a member of tiie B<)ard, iVALUER OP THE SOUT?H33RN PROPERTY, stipulati«g that Lamfaie's fee should be paid whether the money was advanced or not. Ftiedlander put m an application for the money on behalf of an Asbburr ton man named Uox. Beswick i-nd Harris's application was held over by the Board until the Ashburton «one was considered, When, the Board ,bay ing only one appJ»e»&on before it, £5500 was advanced upon Cox's property;, tfte Government rajlmtym of whicti was £6005 only. Taffer %m only recently 1 joined the Harfcer Board and nos.»d theie facts out Uom p& o&>Jroug recoiids. Be has been shakteg tW/jp up ola the local local body, pjarticularly m respect of the
canal scheme, which he favors, but owing to the antiquated system of election, which allows the Hayseed section of the' province to control the water approaches, his party is m a hopeless minority. When, therefore, Ttiomas moved that applications should be invited from the public for the investment of £2300 of the Board's sinking funds, applicants to take Government valuations of the peoperties offered as security, and followed the motion by an exposure of Friedlander's little transactions, the Board as a whole sullenly passed the resolution. Taylor openly accused Friedlander df making use of his inside knowledge as chairman of the finance committee, and Friedlander, as chairman >f the Board, demanded the withdrawal of the state* mentj to which Taylor replied, "I will not withdraw it. I said that you used your inside knowledge, and that is a fact," At Tommy couldn't be arrested and cast into a dungeon deep, the matter rested there for the time being but later Friedlander wrote bitterly deploring that SUCH A DREADFUL MISINTERPRETATION should be placed upon his noble and unselfish work m making investments for the Board.. "If I. had wanted to hide anything m connection with the loans," he" wrote, "I would not have placed written records among the Board's papers to enable such a passionate pilgrim of platitude and Pecksniffian puritamsm, or such a genius for the discovery of mare's nests as Mr Thomas Edward Taylor to make use of them." Sounds like a pious extract from Norton's "Truth." All the same, the whole business leaves a nasty taste m the mouth. Tommy's experience of vouchers may have been unfortunate; his frenzy on the beer question' arouses pity he may even be such a regrettable thing as a land agent, but this last public service of his covers a multitude of indiscretions. To quote an apt variation of an old saw, "Set a land agent to catch a land agent."