Donghua Liu. Photo NZ Herald
Labour has challenged businessman Donghua Liu to come up
with evidence to support his claims of large donations to the
party several years ago which it still has no record of.
Labour's torment at the hands of the millionaire property
developer continued today as he claimed to have 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, obtained by the Herald on Sunday.
Labour Party President Moira Coatsworth said Labour had still
not found any record of the either the bottle of wine
donation or one of $15,000 for a book, also signed by Ms
"No-one has provided any documentary evidence to us that
contradicts our records," she said.
She challenged the validity of Liu's claims, saying the
Herald on Sunday had refused to provide the party with a copy
of Liu's statement in which he makes the allegations or to
even let them read it.
"We consider this to be a denial of natural justice.''
While the Herald on Sunday had reported the fundraiser at
which Liu bought the wine was on June 3 2007, "we have found
no record of any fundraiser held on that date''.
"We continue to call on Donghua Liu and any third parties who
might have information about these allegations, including the
Prime Minister, to place what they know into the public
domain or to refer to the regulators.
" We have had no approaches from the Electoral Commission or
any regulatory agency. We have always cooperated with
regulators, and will always do so when required.'
Liu, who has also donated to National, has been at the centre
of a New Zealand political storm in recent weeks.
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.
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."