New Zealand
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New Zealand government minister resigns over conflicts of interest

WELLINGTON, June 21 (Xinhua) -- Michael Wood has resigned as a minister of the New Zealand government over multiple conflicts of interest, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday.

Hipkins said he was alerted to "additional shareholdings" Wood held in the JM Fairey Family Trust of which he is both a trustee and a beneficiary. The fact was found after Wood's resignation as the transport minister earlier this month due to controversy of his Auckland airport shares.

These new shareholdings raise significant concerns about Wood "not identifying and managing potential and real conflicts of interest," Hipkins said, adding that in particular, the trust holds shares in telecommunications companies such as Chorus and Spark, as well as the National Australia Bank.

"As Minister of Immigration, Michael made the decision to include telecommunications technicians on the immigration Green List. This followed representations from the telecommunications industry, including Chorus, seeking those changes to the Green List," Hipkins said.

Wood also has a shareholding in the National Australia Bank, the parent company of the Bank of New Zealand. However, that was not disclosed in any of the conversations cabinet had around a market study into banking or other relevant cabinet conversations, the prime minister said.

On the Auckland airport shares, Wood did not declare his shares immediately when he became a Member of Parliament (MP) or when he became the transport minister.

Wood purchased the shares of the Auckland International Airport, worth about 13,000 NZ dollars (7,900 U.S. dollars) when he was a teenager in the 1990s.

He declared the shares to the Cabinet Office when he became a minister in 2020. However, he failed to declare them in the public register of MPs' assets and other interests until 2022, local media reported.

Wood said he did not disclose them as he thought the shares had been sold.