Millionaire businessman seeks plea change

04:20, Aug 26 2014
Donghua Liu
IN COURT: Donghua Liu

A Chinese millionaire with links to former minister Maurice Williamson has withdrawn his earlier guilty plea on charges of assaulting two family members.

Donghua Liu, 53, was before Judge Grant Fraser in the Family Violence Court in Auckland for allegedly assaulting his de facto wife and her mother in December.

He pleaded guilty in April to assault with intent to injure and male assaults female.

Today his lawyer Paul Davison filed an application to withdraw the guilty pleas, which the Crown opposed.

Judge Fraser set down a three hour hearing for October 10.

Earlier this year it was revealed that former cabinet minister Maurice Williamson rang the police over the case.

In May Williamson said he was not trying to interfere with the case although he told police that Liu was a large investor in building and construction.

Williamson resigned as building minister over the affair.

Liu was granted citizenship in 2010 by Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy despite official advice suggesting it should be declined on the grounds that he didn't meet English language requirements. The approval followed lobbying by Williamson among others.

One of Liu's companies made a $22,000 donation to the National Party in 2012.

Earlier this month Liu pleaded guilty to two charges under the Resource Management Act over alterations to properties he was developing.

Outside court Davison would not discuss why Liu wanted to withdraw his guilty pleas.

The October 10 hearing would not be a trial on the charges but rather a hearing into the grounds for seeking to withdraw the earlier plea.

"It's a preliminary application that needs to determine whether he is permitted to withdraw his pleas of guilty and replace them with pleas of not guilty," Davison said.

"That has to be determined before any thing else can be done."

Davison said the case was not yet back at square one.

Asked if it was an unusual procedure, Davison said it was not common.

"It is a procedural step that becomes appropriate from time to time and in this case we say it is an instance of that."