It’s not often that you put an item of nearly 20 minutes to air and still feel that there was plenty more of the story still to tell.
60 Minutes Producer Chris Wilks and I spent a month digging deep into the story of Citizen Yan and had access to documents giving us an enormous amount of detail.
But we still feel there is plenty we don’t know.
In fact all the things which, for most people are very simple, in Yan’s case, are opaque.
Like what’s his name? Yong Ming Yan, Yang Liu, Bill Liu, Wiremu Liu and William Yan are among his monikers. The search warrant for his Metropolis apartment also seeks documents in the name of Yong Ming Run.
What about another simple question. Where does he live? That’s easy. He lives on the 35th floor of the MetropolisTower, known as Room 3505. He bought units 35H-L inclusive – property titles 138A/534, 138A/319, 138A/320, 138A/321 and 138A/322 – and combined them into one residence.
He still lives there but he sold them in 2010 to Khai Wain Ng. The curious thing about that is that Khai Wain Ng had listed Room 3505 of the Metropolis as the address for his company, Global Market International Limited, as early as 2007.
So is Liu also Ng? And still to this day we have no idea who Liu really is.
Curiously Liu’s early submissions claim that he was the Vice President of the Chinese Democracy Party. His lawyers argued that the Chinese government may want to persecute him for that and for information about the party’s 30,000 secret members.
We tried to check with the CDP in New York but they would not confirm, or deny, whether he had held that position. Certainly their website names other Vice Presidents but no one going by the names Yan has used.
In the paperwork, officials point out that if Yan felt he was the subject of political persecution there were appropriate avenues for him to take.
“These claims, which effectively amount to an allegation of political persecution, could be advanced by Mr Liu before specialist forums namely the Refugee Status Branch and the Refugee Status Appeals Authority,” officials wrote.
He did not do that. He appealed to the politicians and the politicians helped him.
And did they ever help him.
Here are the questions that still need to be answered.
How did Dover Samuels get to know William Yan and why did he go into bat so strongly for him?
Why, after Rick Barker was introduced to Yan in 2005, did he take until mid-2008 to hand the case over to Shane Jones?
What checks did Shane Jones make to see whether he had a conflict of interests in this case? We point out in the story that there is a shared business history between Jones and Liu. Liu was a director, and through his company Live Fish, a shareholder in the joint venture Crabco. One of the other shareholders was Te Ohu Kaimoana of which Jones was chair between 2000 and 2007.
Now I am prepared to accept that this was a fact that Jones may not have had great interest or even awareness of. But did he check? Was it considered? We know that he knew of Liu’s role with Crabco and Live Fish because it was in the submission that QC John Billington made to Jones pleading the case for Liu’s citizenship.
Pansy Wong also mentions the company, which she describes as a “joint venture with Talleys, Sealord and Sanford” in a letter received by Rick Barker’s office on February 4, 2008.
David Shearer has said on Jones’ behalf that Jones had met Liu on one or two occasions. In what capacity? And why did the Internal Affairs official Johannes Gambo claim that Liu had rung him more than once during the process to claim that he had “big support” from Jones and from Samuels.
It all looks very suspicious. Did Liu have a commitment from Jones he would approve it? Is that why Barker delegated it to Jones? And recall that Liu had paid $10,000 to a Labour Party fundraiser to help him with his application – and whose brother was the senior staffer for Jones.
The greatest mystery to me is why Jones approved the citizenship application and did so without documenting his reasons.
He says he made a file note of an official telling him that Yan would be sent to his death and his organs harvested if he returned to China.
Jones hasn’t produced the note and says he didn’t put it on the file. Why not? There are hand written notes from Jones on Parliamentary notepad paper in the file we saw. But not that one.
He says he’s glad he didn’t put it on the file because the file “leaked”. But if you were a Minister making a controversial decision against the advice of officials wouldn’t you want your reasons to be there in black and white when the scrutiny came on?
I don’t think it is unreasonable to suspect there was no file note ever made, and the reason is bogus. Jones can not produce the note, and it was not put on the file. He can not name the official, and no official can be found who said they gave such advise.
The worst case scenario is this is a case of citizenship sold for favours (not to Jones directly but to others in Labour). The best case for Jones is it is gross incompetence. To not do a comprehensive file note stating your reasons when you overturn the advice of officials and grant citizenship to such a dubious character is incompetent.
I personally like Shane Jones, and regard him as one of the best communicators in Parliament. He had great potential. But this Liu case has always hung over him. Unless he can produce some proof to back up his claims about why he granted citizenship against official advice – then he can not be allowed to become a Minister again – and hence a shadow Minister.