NZ First Foundation donations accused found not guilty

The pair accused of fraudulently receiving money through the New Zealand First Foundation account have been found not guilty.

High Court at Auckland (file picture).

The pair were charged with obtaining by deception and faced a three week trial in the High Court at Auckland.

The Serious Fraud Office revealed details of $750,000 given to the New Zealand First Foundation - a separate entity to the New Zealand First party.

It alleged the men had fraudulently obtained the money.

Through the trial, the court heard from over 40 witnesses about how the foundation had been set up, and from donors who at times said they didn't realise they weren't donating directly to the New Zealand First party itself.

The money had been used for items like a campaign office space on Lambton Quay in Wellington, a software system and an appearance fee for boxer Joseph Parker at a party conference.

The SFO alleged the funds were kept secret from party leader Winston Peters and the board.

Peters was never called to give evidence.

Justice Jagose released his reserved decision today.

He ruled the money was not a party donation, where the money needs to have been donated to any person who is involved in the administration of the affairs of the party.

Justice Jagose found the men were not involved in the administration of the party.

They were entitled to have control of the money and therefore the judge found there was no fraud as alleged by the SFO.

The pair had repeatedly denied they collected money that should have been treated as donations - and therefore declared to the Electoral Commission.

The SFO said it was considering the judgement.

"We believe there was real value in bringing this case and shining a light on the conduct in question,” said SFO director Karen Chang.