WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Team New Zealand have blamed “informants” for spreading “highly defamatory and inaccurate” allegations about the body organising their America’s Cup defence, triggering government questions over “financial and structural matters”.

The team, who will defend the 169-year-old sailing trophy in Auckland next year, said suspicions that there were “informants” in the America’s Cup Event (ACE) organisation were confirmed when leaked information came back to them from Europe.

“The motives of the informants who had access to the Team New Zealand base can only be guessed at,” read a team statement. “In addition, these people have made highly defamatory and inaccurate allegations … These allegations are entirely incorrect. As a result, the contract of the informants has been terminated.”

ACE is a subsidiary of Team New Zealand formed to run the America’s Cup.