Immigration investigation subject met Key
National Party leader John Key said today he had met Auckland businessman Yang Liu, the subject of questions about his residency and citizenship.
He also said Mr Liu had made an unsolicited donation of $5000 to National before the last election.
Mr Key said he remembered meeting Mr Liu three times, twice at lunches before the 2005 election, and once when they were both at the same event after the election in late 2005 or early 2006. MP Pansy Wong also attended both lunches.
"I have not met him since becoming leader," Mr Key said.
Last night Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker took the unusual step of issuing a statement which related to a report to be published in a newspaper today.
He said he was issuing the statement in response to questions from the media about the circumstances in which Mr Liu was granted residency and citizenship.
"There is an ongoing investigation into the possibility of immigration fraud in this case," Mr Barker said.
"That may result in a prosecution and/or revocation of residency status.
"Where a case for revocation is established, this may provide a basis to deprive a person of their citizenship."
Mr Barker said he did not want to jeopardise this process and there would be no further comment from ministers.
He did set out some facts regarding Mr Liu's circumstances.
* Mr Liu applied for permanent residency in January 2002 and it was granted in June 2002. The decision was made by an immigration officer.
* Mr Liu applied for citizenship in May 2005 and it was approved on August 6, 2008.
* Mr Liu swore the oath of allegiance on August 11.
"All citizenship decisions are made by the Minister of Internal Affairs, except where there may be an actual or perceived conflict of interest," Mr Barker said.
"In that circumstance, a decision on a citizenship application is made by another minister acting under delegated authority. A general delegation to the Hon Shane Jones was in place."
The Herald reported today that in a Newstalk ZB interview last night, Ian Wishart, of Investigate magazine, said he had received leaked Department of Internal Affairs documents raising concerns about Mr Liu's true identity.
The Herald also quoting retiring Labour MP Dover Samuels as saying he supported the citizenship application of his "personal friend", Mr Liu.
The MP said Mr Liu had been in New Zealand seven years, his wife was a New Zealand citizen and his children were New Zealanders.
"He's never broken the law here."
Mr Samuels added his understanding was that the granting of citizenship had "got up the nose" of Internal Affairs officials and they had leaked information to Mr Wishart.
Mr Key said when he met Mr Liu at the lunches, National Party policies, and politics generally, were discussed. At no time were his residency or citizenship issues discussed.
"Before the last election Mr Liu made an unsolicited donation of $5000 which was passed on by my electorate officials to the National Party headquarters.
"I did not discuss donations with Mr Liu at any of the three encounters," Mr Key said.
Until he had read about Mr Liu in this morning's New Zealand Herald, Mr Key said he had not had any knowledge of any issues surrounding him.
"It appears to me that he was reasonably active in getting to know politicians across the political spectrum.
"Obviously it is for the Government to answer questions about the advice they received from officials in relation to Mr Liu," Mr Key said.