Liu says he donated $150K to Labour — but Cunliffe says there's no evidence
UPDATE: Labour leader is refusing to acknowedge a claim that Donghau Liu donated his party $150,000 — as a signed statement by Mr Liu, obtained by the NZ Herald, says.
"There is no record of the donations," Mr David Cunliffe told TVNZ's Q+A programme this morning.
The claims have "not been substatiated," he said. "According to [Labour Party president] Moira Coatesworth and our party team who have searched their files, there is no record of having received a donation from Mr Liu and certainly nothing of that order."
When asked whether Mr Liu is a liar, Mr Cunliffe said, "No, no. I'm saying the burden of proof is on him."
Mr Cunliffe says the Labour party is continuing its investigation into the claims, but that the onus should be on Mr Liu to substantiate his claims.
EARLIER: Chinese businessman Donghua Liu spent more than $150,000 on the previous Labour government, including $100,000 on a bottle of wine signed by former prime minister Helen Clark at a party fundraiser, the NZ Herald has revealed.
Last week, Labour leader David Cunliffe faced controversy after he said he had never met or advocated for Mr Liu.
Just a day later, an 11-year-old letter emerged that Mr Cunliffe had written in support of the controversial millionaire's residency application.
It was also revealed Mr Liu had donated $15,000 to Labour.
After the letter came to light, Prime Minister John Key said he would be "very, very amazed" if details of a larger donation did not emerge.
Labour general secretary Tim Barnett released a statement saying "In response to media reports, Party staff have looked through the 2007 records today, and found no record of donations in the name of Donghua Liu."
The letter controversy sparked rumours of a Labour leadership spill after senior MPs met with Mr Cunliffe on Thursday. But on Thursday afternoon Mr Cunliffe appeared with Grant Robertson and David Parker — his two most obvious potential challengers — in a show of unity.
Labour's caucus has entered a three-month pre-election window where its leader can be rolled by a simple majority vote among MPs (rather than including members and affiliated unions, who ordinarily outnumber MPs under party's new primary system).
For his part, Mr Cunliffe has suggested a smear campaign is underway, and questioned how Mr Key knew about the Liu immigration letter two years ago, and appeared to have advance information about a large Liu donation to Labour.
Donghua Liu (53) has also been a substantial donor to National.
On April 1, he admitted guilty to assaulting his de facto wife ith intent to injure.
He is awaiting sentencing on the charges, which carry a maximum penalty of three years' jail.
Maurice Williamson resigned from cabinet on May 1 over a phone call he made to police after Mr Liu was first arrested for the domestic violence incident.