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SFO files criminal charges over National Party donations

The Serious Fraud Office has filed criminal charges against four people in relation to donations paid into a National Party electorate bank account.

It has not charged the party or party leader Simon Bridges. The defendants, who have not been named, are scheduled to appear in the Auckland District Court on 25 February, according to a statement the SFO released.

In March last year, the SFO received a referral from Police about a complaint made by former National MP Jami-Lee Ross in relation to the disclosure of political donations under the Electoral Act.

Ross alleged that National Party leader Simon Bridges asked him to split a $100,000 donation from a businessman into smaller amounts to keep it secret and circumvent electoral rules.

Donations over $15,000 must be disclosed.

Ross gave a recording to Police of himself speaking to Bridges about the donation.

Both National and Bridges deny any wrongdoing.

In a statement, Bridges said he and his party secretary had not been charged.

"I have always maintained I had nothing to do with the donations. As I have always said the allegations against both myself and the Party were baseless and false."

The SFO will not make any further comment until any name suppression issues have been dealt with.

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