The Auckland Energy Consumer Trust (AECT) has again been forced to correct misinformation about its legal status and that of the shares in Vector Ltd (NZX: VCT) that it holds in trust for the benefit of Vector lines customers in Auckland, Manukau and northern parts of Papakura.

The AECT is the private trust that pays all households, flats and businesses in Auckland, Manukau and northern parts of Papakura a cash dividend each September, which many families use to assist with Christmas preparations. This year the dividend was $335.

The chief executive of the Employer’s and Manufacturers Association, Kim Campbell, has been reported at today saying that the 75.4% of the shares in Vector that AECT owns, worth approximately $2.1 billion, are to be transferred to the ownership of the Auckland Council in 2073.

A spokesman for the AECT, Matthew Hooton, said that this was not correct.

“As the trust’s chairman made clear last week, Auckland Council has no current legal right or entitlement whatsoever to the assets that AECT holds in trust for energy consumers in Auckland, Manukau and northern parts of Papakura,” Mr Hooton said.

“The trust was established by parliament to be an entirely private-sector organisation.

“Mr Campbell is misleading Aucklanders. Legislation to forcibly transfer the assets to Auckland Council would be a confiscation and nationalisation by parliament of private assets. It would be the end of the annual dividend cheques that benefit over 300,000 households and businesses.

“To add insult to injury, Mr Campbell is proposing that following his proposed confiscation and nationalisation, the shares would then be sold back into private ownership, including to many of the same people on whose behalf the trust already owns them.

“The trust invites Mr Campbell to seek legal advice in order to clarify his understanding of the legal status of the trust and the shares it owns in trust for the people of Auckland, Manukau and northern parts of Papakura.

“It is unusual, to say the least, to have an ostensibly pro-business group calling for a confiscation and nationalisation of private assets.”

The confiscation and nationalisation that Mr Campbell wants would require Energy Minister Simon Bridges to introduce legislation and for it to gain the support of the majority of parliament.