Donghua Liu's involvement in the Chongqing case was simply
that of a witness, his lawyer said. Photo / Richard
A wealthy Auckland businessman, whose links to the
National Party led to a senior minister's resignation, gave
cut-price real estate deals to a Chinese politician in return
for business favours, according to a court judgment.
Donghua Liu said he was not charged in connection to the
corruption case but gave evidence at the trial which led to a
13-year jail sentence for the political leader who was
convicted of accepting bribes.
Liu's role as a witness in the prosecution case throws a new
spotlight on his background in China. An Immigration
Department spokesman was unable to answer questions about the
According to a court judgment obtained and translated by the
Herald, Liu -- as general manager of real estate development
company Chongqing Tianlong -- sold real estate to the
political leader and his wife at heavily discounted prices,
purchased some back at inflated rates and waived debt to a
total benefit of $375,000 to the couple.
In return, the Chinese politician used his position to
support Liu's construction and cement businesses by approving
projects as well as land permits and mining licences.
The court's verdict states that Liu gave evidence at the 2006
trial of Ping Ma and his wife which confirmed his "buying
low, selling high" real estate deals described by Chinese
authorities as "emotional investment".
Ping Ma was the Secretary of the Tongliang County, Chongqing
committee of the Communist Party of China.
"Although Liu didn't make a specific request in exchange for
the gift, the intention was clear that as a county party
secretary Ping Ma would have the power to benefit the
companies in the future," said the verdict of the
Intermediate People's Court of Chongqing.
"In the process of accepting several 'emotional investments',
Ping Ma had made a clear commitment: 'Come to me whenever you
need, I will help as much as I can.'
"The two defendants paid obviously lower-than-market prices
to buy [Liu's company's] development of residential, retail
and commercial buildings.
"Although the behaviour is different compared to directly
receiving properties, it is only a different method of
covering their criminal acts of bribery."
Ping Ma and his wife, Jianping Shen, were convicted of
accepting bribes and jailed for 13 and five years in prison
respectively for obtaining $375,000 through the real estate
deals. The convictions were upheld on appeal to the Higher
People's Court but Shen's sentence was reduced to three
Liu's Auckland-based lawyer, Todd Simmonds, said that neither
Liu nor his company was charged with any alleged offending.
"The involvement of Mr Liu in these proceedings was simply
that of a witness," Mr Simmonds said.
"Mr Liu does not wish to make any further comment in relation
to this matter."
- Jared Savage of The New Zealand Herald