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Controversial businessman Donghua Liu has issued a new statement to the Herald confirming "close to" $100,000 in total payments to Labour and its MPs – including anonymous donations - but clarifying that the money was not for one bottle of wine.
Liu, who Labour gave permanent residency against official advice, says his earlier signed statement on the wine auction was "capable of two meanings" and after repeated inquiries from the Herald he says he wants to clarify what he spent the $100,000 on. The signed statement obtained by the Herald on Sunday said that at a 2007 Labour Party fundraiser, he "successfully bid on bottles of wine including one bottle signed by the then Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon Helen Clark, with a contribution of close to $100,000".
The previous sentence in the signed statement said dinner and a boat trip on the Yangtze River in 2007 with a group including Rick Barker, the Minister for Internal Affairs at the time, which Liu estimated to cost between $50,000 to $60,000.
Today, Liu said: "I did say I made a contribution of close to $100,000 and that is my closing comment in my statement…that is how much I believe I have donated in total to Labour and some of their MPs during their last term in Government."
He said the figure was the total payments to Labour and its politicians which included the wine auctions, a $2000 donation to the Hawkes Bay Rowing Club, the Yangtze River trip and anonymous donations to MPs.
"I have no reason to inflate this number. It's as best as I can remember," said Liu.
The signed statement makes no mention of Liu winning an auction for a book, although Herald sources said he paid $15,000 for a book signed by Ms Clark.
"Again, as a private donor I donated to both Governments in good faith and without expectation. It is not my responsibility to make the appropriate political declarations," said Liu.
"Some of these donations were made anonymously which was perfectly legal and so such donations will only ever appear in some individual donation returns as anonymous."
His confirmation of the total sum of $100,000 will still leave Labour with a headache as it searches records for donations and the links between senior MPs and the wealthy businessman which emerged last week.
The Herald revealed party leader David Cunliffe wrote a letter for Liu's residency application, despite previous denials, and also Mr Barker's dinner with Liu on the Yangtze River.
Labour had earlier attacked the National Party for accepting 'cash for access' from Liu and others, and had criticized National's granting of citizenship to him, again against official advice.
National MP Maurice Williamson was also forced to resign from his ministerial portfolios last month after the Herald revealed he had called police officers about the criminal prosecution of Liu.
- By Jared Savage of the New Zealand Herald