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Labour failed to declare $150,000 from Liu — Police should investigate

The Herald on Sunday reports:

Millionaire 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.

So Labour, which was campaigning on financial transparency in 2007, took $150,000 from Mr Liu (after going against official advice to give him residency) and never ever disclosed that he was a donor.  This shows how deeply hypocritical they are, let alone the strong possibility they broke the law with their 2007 donation return.

Millionaire 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.

I’ve previously said the Police should investigate. The investigation should not just be under the Electoral Act. There may be theft involved. If Liu was donating to Labour, and Labour say they have no record of the donation, then what happened to the money? Did it go directly to any MPs?

If Labour had a shred of integrity, they would not wait for a Police investigation. They should ask Mr Liu directly who he gave the money to, and in what form was it.

“This is scandalous from the public’s perspective. There has to be some sort of official investigation, whether it’s a police one or a parliamentary one,” said political commentator Bryce Edwards. “There must be some sort of official investigation, whether it’s a police or parliamentary.”

Asked about a potential investigation under electoral finance laws, Liu’s lawyer Todd Simmonds indicated that Liu was comfortable with his financial support and would cooperate with any inquiry.

This is why I believe we should have an Independent Commission against Corruption – a body which can investigate issues like that – even if there are no prosecutions – we need to have someone with the ability to find out what happened.

Liu’s signed statement was dated May 3, two days after Williamson’s resignation. It said:

• Liu paid “close to $100,000″ for wine at a 2007 Labour Party fundraiser;

• That he spent $50-60,000 hosting then-labour minister Rick Barker on a cruise on the Yangtze River in China in 2007; and

This is a huge issue for Rick Barker. He was required by Parliament’s Standing Orders to disclose any gift of over $500 in value.

That Liu visited Barker in Hawke’s Bay in 2006, having dinner with him at an exclusive lodge and then meeting for breakfast the next morning. Liu said he made a donation to Hawke’s Bay Rowing, which Barker was associated with.

Yet Barker claims to barely know him.

Barker previously told the Herald that he could barely remember having dinner.

I like Rick Barker, but he has some serious questions to answers. I presume the Parliamentary Privileges Committee can investigate the adequacy of his pecuniary interests return.

Edwards said while it was not clear if Labour had broken any laws, public confidence in the party had been dented.

He said a private prosecution could be possible, and it was the responsibility of the electoral commission to investigate and to decide whether a referral to police should be made.

They may not be able to prosecute, but they could insist the returns are corrected if necessary (as they did with NZ First).

Edwards said the case highlighted the need for a regulatory body separate from the Electoral Commission “to look at questions of corruption and irregularities” around . Donations made at fundraising auctions or dinners are not recorded individually, but the total amount raised is declared.

That may be correct for Labour, but I’m certain that is not current practice for National. Anyone who donates over the disclosure limit is disclosed.

So what do we now know about Labour and this Liu.

  1. Chris Carter and David Cunliffe wrote letters on his behalf to immigration officials, despite him not being a constituent of either MP
  2. Damien O’Connor granted him residency against official advice
  3. He gave a donation to a club Rick Barker was involved in, and spent $50,000 or so on entertaining Barker in China
  4. He donated $150,000 or so to Labour, yet they have never ever disclosed he was a donor

The entire reason we have disclosure laws is so the media can scrutinise significant donations, and the public can form views on the appropriateness of the donations. Labour’s credibility on issues of electoral finance is now zero.

Political commentator David Farrar posts at Kiwiblog.

Comments and questions

Farrar - instead of another rort a la police investigation (perhaps akin to the investigation done to ascertain if J Banks ought to be charged), simply ask Liu to front up with evidence of donations. Also, as you have taken Liu's reported comment at face value then you need to call for an investigation to the national party (i.e. Liu has said he had donated equally to the two parties).

Exactly. Whale's column is simply akin to National Party organised Letters to the Editor. Perhaps Whale could do some of his own work rather than relying so much recently on the Herald?

Ironic that in certain circles - according to the movies and TV - that once a big, juicy target to be exploited is identified, they're called a "Whale"

Your problem is that Farrar calls his own blog "Whale Oil" - so the derision is of his own choosing, not mine or any critics.

I think you're getting somewhat confused.
Perhaps a few big deep breath's might help...

Oops - you're right, I'm wrong. My apologies. And by the way, I have no problems with my breathing, but you may want to check your own as the plural of breath doesn't have an apostrophe.

Priceless - its Selwyn Toogood as politicians - "money or the bag"

I'm no Labour fan but the values mentioned here are just too high to be believable. $100k for a bottle of wine and no one has leaked the details previously? Just doesn't stack up. $50k for a boat cruise in China? That would buy one hell of a cruise. $15k hidden away was believable, these numbers require hard evidence and I have to give Labour the benefit of the doubt until something solid is presented.

There must be an official investigation here. John Banks was convicted of not disclosing Dotcom donations and had to resign. To be consistent this must go through the same process.

David Cunliffe made all the statements about National being at the begging of big business yet he won't now acknowledge that he was being totally hypocritical.

The National description of Cunliffe as being "tricky" is being shown to be totally accurate. Not the behaviour of a Prime Minister in waiting

The Herald won't even release the so-called signed statement by Liu. And that's the only "evidence" behind any of these allegations - certainly not enough to be calling for an official investigation until we see the statement. Liu could in fact have simply bought the bottle of wine at a charity auction. He may be under the mistaken impression he was donating at the time to Labour rather than a charity - but that is his problem.

And that's the problem with Whale's allegations as well. He relies also on the Herald, which is interesting as in representing himself in the High Court this morning, he said that "since the day the (his) website started in 2005.....all I've ever done" is break and disseminate news.

Liu would have to be pretty stupid to release the information if it were false or if it could not be substantiated. Liu has nothing to gain or lose here unlike Dotcom!! Liu would have known from the intense press interest in Banks/Dotcom/now Cunliffe/Barker that this would be intensively scrutinised. I am betting this information is totally provable. Ok lets substantiate it. I think the proving needs to be done by the Police. But if proven true the Police/Electoral commission must become engaged and appropriate action taken. The Liu dinner cruise for Rick Barker sounds all to entirely similar to Judith Collins. Both events in China, both involving Ministers of the Crown and both on the expectation that the dinner would have some explicit or implicit benefits downstream at some stage. Again on Collins we had Cunliffe railing that this was a serious affair and now it is revealed his own party did exactly the same thing. I can't see how credibility can be restored again.

As I've suggested, I think the most likely scenario is that Liu was simply mistaken and was at a charity auction. But under any circumstances, it is insufficient for the Herald to make its allegations on the basis of a so-called signed statement from Liu without actually being willing to produce it. It's not up to the police. it's up to Liu to substantiate or properly declare what he alleges. Otherwise people can go around alleging any sort of thing.

Too right mate, what about some proof? Labour has thrown down the gauntlet.. lets see some evidence, else these are just so much hot air. Where's the beef?

It was good enough for John Banks to be indicted ,or good for the goose.Same applies to Labour Party and Rick Barker.Banks was charged ,with something that happened in 2010 ,so time limit has no barrier.We now await Police and Crown Law Office ,earning their credibility.

Banks acknowledged receipt of the money question was did he know where it came from. Labour says they have no record of receiving it so it is different. If it is proven that they received it and did not declare it throw the book at them.

We should be giving credit to the immigration department they got it absolutely right this guy should not have been let in to NZ. Pity politicians from both sides stuck there noses in the trough.

Should kick him out.

Police should investigate Mr Liu.

Your facts seem to no longer be facts. 50k seems to be for a company dinner maybe with Barker the guest of honor. 150k is now something a lot less. Only thing proven is a donation to a rowing club and a dinner on a boat worth $200-300.

Who has egg on their face now.

So the National Party's key propagandist and strategist is asking for a police investigation even when he knows Liu is a liar? National truly has sunk below the septic tank in its sheer desperation to hold onto power. What other things are you willing to sell for power?