Liu found not guilty

The Herald reports:

A millionaire businessman at the centre of a political scandal has been found not guilty of immigration fraud charges.

William Yan – also known as and Yong Ming Yan – pleaded not guilty to four charges relating to false declarations on immigration papers in 2001 and 2002 and one of using false written statements to get citizenship.

He was found not guilty on all five charges against him in the High Court in Auckland this morning. …

Justice Timothy Brewer said the case had nothing to do with political connections and commentary.

His decision was based on the evidence in court about whether false declarations had been made on documents.

He said he found that the Crown had not reached the level of proof of beyond reasonable doubt which the judge said was a very high standard.

The court case, as I said before, was on whether Liu lied on his immigration forms. The issue with is whether he granted Liu citizenship against official advice because Liu had donated to various parties and MPs. His explanation that Liu faced execution because he was Falun Gong is very dubious when you consider:

  • The decision was about being a citizen vs a permanent resident, not about staying in the country
  • Falun Gong are strictly banned from gambling, Liu spent over $10m at Sky City
  • There is no written record of the advice Jones claims he was given by an official he seems unable to name

I’ll comment tomorrow on the request for the to investigate. The way the request has been worded is incredibly narrow. Any investigation should be full and robust. I’ll try and blog tomorrow what, at a minimum, an inquiry should look at.

The danger for the Auditor-General is that things could be a repeat of the Ingram Inquiry into Taito Philip Field. Helen Clark set very narrow terms of reference, related to Field’s ministerial role only. Ingram actually did a superb job with his inquiry, but due to his terms of reference found no breach by Field in terms of his ministerial role. As people know, the Police later charged Field and he was convicted of corruption and bribery. Ingram’s report was unfairly seen as a whitewash, because the terms of reference were so narrow.

The essence of the allegations against Jones is that he was influenced by MPs (principally Dover Samuels) to grant citizenship despite the lack of good character, and that part of the motivation for this was because Liu had donated to various MPs and parties. Now it is difficult to see how one can investigate this, unless you can access the donor records of the various political parties. And I am unsure that the Auditor-General has any power over political parties.

Hence I think a full inquiry with powers to compel witnesses and material would be the best way forward, if Shearer and the PM could agree on terms of reference. In the absence of such an inquiry an investigation by the Auditor-General is better than nothing happening – but the terms of reference need to be as wide as possible to ensure it is not a repeat if the Ingram Inquiry.

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