Shipley grilled on Mainzeal role and suitability for Genesis chair

Appearing before the commerce select committee for a regular performance review by MPs, Dame Jenny would not fully answer questions by Labour's Clayton Cosgrove.

The former chairwoman of companies in the collapsed construction group Mainzeal, Dame Jenny Shipley, faced hostile questions on her suitability as chairwoman for state-owned electricity company Genesis Energy.

Appearing before the commerce select committee for a regular performance review by MPs, Dame Jenny would not answer calls from Labour's Clayton Cosgrove for assurances there was nothing relating to her Mainzeal role which could damage Genesis's reputation.

Dame Jenny and two other New Zealand-based independent directors resigned from the board of Mainzeal Property and Construction in December, and as chairwoman of Mainzeal Group just before MPC was placed in receivership on February 6.

She stonewalled similar questions at a press conference last week for the company's half-year earnings result, and was clearly anticipating Mr Cosgrove's line of questioning. She told the committee she had given no similar assurance to Minister of State-Owned Enterprises Tony Ryall.

As he pressed her on the issue, the former National Party prime minister replied: "I have no wish to offend Standing Orders and I am very familiar with Standing Orders, as you would expect, and relevance is a key issue here."

Committee chairman Jonathan Young came to Dame Jenny's rescue, ordering a new line of questioning, but Mr Cosgrove returned to the issue later, shocking Dame Jenny by asking whether public relations consultant Bill Ralston was being paid for by her personally or by Genesis.

Mr Ralston has issued statements for the former Mainzeal independent directors.

"Genesis is not paying for any private services for myself," she said with a gasp.

She also told the committee there had been discussions on the dual-listing of partially privatised state-owned enterprises at a meeting between several SOE chairs and Treasury officials.

(BusinessDesk)

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