Donghua Liu. Photo NZ Herald
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.
The embarrassing revelations are contained in a signed
statement from Liu, which the Herald on Sunday has obtained.
They come at the end of a horror week for Labour, already
under pressure after the New Zealand Herald revealed that Liu
paid $15,000 for a book at the same fundraiser in 2007.
Labour has said it had no record of any donations from Liu.
And leader David Cunliffe had to fight to keep his job after
revelations he wrote a letter for Liu's residency, despite
The Chinese businessman, who has also donated to National,
has been at the centre of a New Zealand political storm in
Maurice Williamson resigned as a minister after an admission
he intervened in a police investigation on Liu's behalf.
Labour loudly condemned National for so-called
cash-for-access in the wake of the resignation.
The latest developments have sparked calls for a police
"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
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.
Cunliffe last night dodged questions, saying it was a "matter
for Labour Party's head office". Labour Party general
secretary Tim Barnett said the party had no record of the
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
• That he spent $50-60,000 hosting then-labour minister Rick
Barker on a cruise on the Yangtze River in China in 2007; and
• 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.
Barker previously told the Herald that he could barely
remember having dinner.
Last night Barker, now a regional councillor, said the
revelations came "as a surprise and a complete reversal" of
Liu's previous comments.
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.
"Everything seems a lot murkier since the Donghua Liu scandal
and I think the impetus lies with politicians to open their
books and allow the public to see how they're fundraising
their money and what they're doing with it."
Edwards added that although the blame did not lie with
Cunliffe personally, he had to deal with egg on his face. "It
does create a charge of hypocrisy because he's campaigned
strongly against the Government relationship with Donghua Liu
and it appears Labour's relationship is just as deep."
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 political
donations. Donations made at fundraising auctions or dinners
are not recorded individually, but the total amount raised is
Liu yesterday told the Herald that his donations had been in
good faith without any expectation. "It is over to the
politicians to make any appropriate declarations.
"However, because I've built relationships with politicians,
made donations, because it's election year and, dare I say,
because I'm Chinese, I suppose I've been an easy target for
some to gain some political mileage and score some points."
Before leaving Washington yesterday, John Key indicated that
he was aware of the statement.
"In the end, it's for Donghua Liu to speak about his own
position and I think he has done that to the Herald."
- Herald on Sunday