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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.

Comments and questions

Forgive an interested question.

Did the PM's old mate Helen Clark tell John Key? Apparently this happened under her reign.

The dirty tricks brigade is out in full for for a National win.

Is this the kind of government we want - yet again?

And what was the PM"s involvement in Shane Jones's temporary departure?

It's hardly dirty tricks when National is just revealing how hypocritical the Labour Party is.

If Labour want to take the moral high ground on superfluous issues like these, then they better make sure they are clean - which it appears they are not.

Labour needs to get back to developing sound sensible economic policies. To date, they've only come up with economically illiterate policies that they can't even reveal in any meaningful detail.

I think what you'll find is that Liu is taking a bet both ways, but knowing Labour won't win the election sucking up to National again by revealing these donations. I suspect he has played a similar hand with National. All politicians involved in this murky mess need to get a lot smarter when dealing with wealthy Chinese. The playing field has changed.

It would be great spectacle to see National's Judith Collins calling Labour out for their Chinese donations, from a public "have a laugh" perspective.

Liu sucked everyone in, and he hasn't yet spent any of the money on the grandiose developments he promised. Turf him out before every other party gets tarnished too.

Oh dear, Is this to be another torture by drip feed?.

If true, surely labour is now toast, and Cunliffe is cinders. If they dont even know who is funding them how on earth can they run a government.?

Hypocrisy is a dangerous sport in politics and Cunliffe is badly beaten.

So, a Chinese resident who has a poor record of veracity (where are the developments he promised in his application for residency?)

All this dirty pool politics will come back to haunt "win at any cost" Key and his propagandists here and on Kiwiblog.

I don't see an win at all costs attitude from National - based on the press they are more balanced than some of the other parties.

Even in this case - Labour made a political attack using Liu as the basis of their attacks. National did some due diligence to see how exposed they were, and the media have picked it up. Liu may be lying and even John Key has suggested that he should provide his evidence.

So no dirty tricks here by National, at worst in this case they could be accused of a little schadenfreude and I guess many of us are guilty of this.

But labour are running around now and everything that they are finding to be an issue is being caused by National - or so they say - we need to send them a pack of mirrors because it is only by looking at themselves are they going to solve their problems.

This is the kind of person we don't want in NZ - someone from overseas dubiously granted NZ Citizenship who just wants to buy influence with the Government of the day.

Agree. The bottom line is that Liu needs deporting. He has meddled in our politics across all parties.

This type of politics begs the question as to whether any of the parties are fit to govern, so much time spent by everyone undermining the other imagine if all their efforts were spent on actually running the country

Is the voters choice now which is the least corrupt of the political parties standing. What happened to the money if Labour have no record of it?

OMG, let's not go there! Working out which is the least corrupt party? How does a punter ever determine that?

Interesting. The Herald says John Key knew about Liu's statement before he left for Washington. How did he know?

More interesting. David Cunliffe didn't know...or forgot despite his repeated attacks on the government for the same thing.

Nice try though. You don't work in Len Brown's office do you?

Labour took a $150,000 from a wealthy Chinese backer, granted him residency and yet they claim they know nothing about it? Come on, Labour, pull the other one. Where is that money, what did you do with it, and why wasn't it declared? This is starting to have a distinct smell of corruption about it.

If Labour had received such a donation, someone in their administration would remember it. Stories appear to conflict, And I would believe the Labour party organisation before any claim from an individual who cannot even speak English.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. There's something that stinks in the Labour party, and I think we're beginning to see why.

Really? From an organization which cannot even spell Mr Liu's name right?

Push anyone far enough with hypocrisy of the type from Labour and you get the revelations now.

Foreigners shouldnt be able to donate to political parties .... problem solved

Foreigners (those who are neither permanent residents nor citizens) cannot donate more than $1500 per year to a political party.

Folks finally getting the corruption REALITY ? Perhaps a few more should have listened. sooner to NZs anti-corruption 'whistleblowers' ? Let's see sworn affidavits, receipts, financial reports etc, following proper inquiries by STATUTORY 'third party' public watchdogs who get paid public monies to look after the public interest? How about also focusing on why Minister of Justice Judith Collins 'Organised Crime and Anti-Corruption Legislation Bill' (the passage of which is required before NZ can ratify the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) - has yet to surface in the House?

Political parties are required to file an annual return of all donations, audited by an independent public accountant, with disclosure of the name and address of all donors who made donations in excess of $15,000. These returns are filed with the Electoral Commission and are published on their website.

It all used to be so simple once upon a time! It was either National or Labour, and you knew exactly what you were voting for. Now I have no idea whether I'm voting for the policies of a fat German or a skinny Chinaman.

Perhaps Labour's next move will be to ask tobacco companies to prove that smoking causes cancer

Ever considered Mr Liu as the one who is not telling the truth here?

We are still waiting for this hotel development in Newmarket, that he promised!!

Labour $150K for residency, how much did National get for the Citizenship???
Wealthy people will always find a way!!!

Get used to this sort thing....a certain group of immigrants buying favours. It is a way of life for them, they think nothing of it.
Truth is as Kiwis we need to grow balls and not become 'lap-dogs' for anyone regardless of their wealth.
I predicted this style of graft would become an issue when Clark opened the flodd-gates back in the '90s.

I would suggest an amount of $150k appearing in the Labour Party a/cs would not go unnoticed, with questions as to where it came from. Mr Cunnilffe is far too clever for all us plebs and to suggest the "burden of proof is on him..." is at best a feeble attempt to douse the fire.

John Banks lost his job over a similar situation, what is the Labour Party going to do about this????

Funny that they could find 'no record' of the letter that Cunliffe wrote to Immigration for Liu (and came up with a convoluted tale of fried disk drives and misfiled emails to explain the previous denial), and now there is 'no record' of the alleged donations.

There is a history within the Labour Party of destroying 'incriminating evidence' - remember Helen Clark's staffer destroyed the 'Paintergate' artwork that the Prime Minister 'passed off' as her own? Motive: to pour cold water on a pending scandal back in the early 2000s.

Is this another case of 'destroying the evidence' to thwart inquiry?

$100,000 for a bottle wine huh!

How was that transacted? If it was paid by cheque the Liu can specify the date and the bank and produce a bank statement - easy - matter settled

If it was paid in cash there is a possibility it never made it upstairs to the back-office

So how did donghua make the payment and who did he give it to?

I have read that Cunliffe had his hard drive stolen... murkier and murkier.

Why is the Herald on Sunday printing an assertion about $100,000 bottles of wine from a businessmen (under investigation) as fact?

Until it is proven beyond reasonable doubt this publication seems to have been caught up in peddling hearsay that damages a major party in the run up to an election. This is not acceptable.

I appreciate that NBR adores Key and the National party but there are lots of people in this country who do not.

These people are concerned about corporate welfare, fat cat tax avoidance, inequality, police raids with machine guns, communications spying, bullying of beneficiaries, asset stripping, environmental destruction etc..

These people are not getting the representation they need and they will end up resorting to direct action. Just saying...

Where did Donghua Liu get his money ? In the early 2000s almost all Chinese coming here had communist party links or were involved in the construction industry or had benefited from 'privatisation' of state assets where corruption was rife!
Against official advice he was given citizenship. His closeness to the National party means he need never risk being sent back to China. Who is this guy and exactly what sort of shadowy influence is he peddling from mainland China?

Exactly - who is this guy, what is he up to in China, and what does he do when he is here beside throw money at political parties..? . In China there are ALWAYS strings atteched .. nobody gives anything away for nothing.

Spot on. And the PM's (whoops National's) policy of selling NZ out to Communist Chinese interests is a disgrace.

New Zealanders have not given John Key any mandate to undertake all this deal-making he is so very "relaxed" about..