Jones stands by Yan citizenship decision

21:28, May 21 2012
Shane Jones
SHANE JONES: Under pressure to explain why he overruled advice by officials to grant Yan citizenship in 2008.

A defiant Labour MP Shane Jones says he did nothing wrong approving the citizenship of Chinese millionaire Yong Min Yan and his decision was based on humanitarian grounds.

The former minister has also hit out at an official who told the High Court at Auckland he only had a file on Yan, also known as Bill Liu, for a day before making his decision.

Jones has been under pressure to explain why he overruled advice by officials to grant Yan citizenship in 2008.

This morning he broke his silence on the case, saying he had the file on Yan for a month.

"Not, as has been alleged, overnight," he told Radio Live.

Yan, who had also been red-flagged by Interpol based on arrest warrants in China, is on trial in Auckland accused of passport fraud.

Jones said he had been given submissions on Yan's bid for citizenship by both government officials and by an eminent QC.

"I considered the issue and then on humanitarian grounds because the guy had a wife, had kids, and a few others things. I made what was a difficult decision and I stand by that decision.

"But the suggestion that somehow I got the file, had a shower and the next day approved it, is wrong. And I am disappointed that has been said in court."

Allegations he had done something wrong as a minister were just allegations, he said.

"Let them be sorted out in a court. Internal Affairs officials were working on the issue since 2005. At the end of the day it turns on a point of law now. Let the judge make the decision."

Jones would not elaborate on what humanitarian grounds he granted Yan citizenship on.

"There were a host of allegations against the man, none of them were proven. Not a single thing has been proven.

"Once all of the evidence has been put before the court, rest assured I'll have a lot more to say about this case."

Jones said he may have met Yan at a function at an Asian restaurant while associate trade minister but he attended many and did not remember him.

Yan's friend and former Labour minister Dover Samuels has suggested he was persecuted by the Chinese government because he was a member of the banned Falun Gong meditation group.

A citizenship ceremony was organised for Yan by Samuels in the Maori affairs select committee room at Parliament.

Labour leader David Shearer is under pressure to stand Jones down because of his recent calls for Government ministers John Banks and Nick Smith to quit.

Shearer said he spoke to Jones over the weekend, reviewed the information available and concluded the process appeared "considered and proper".

Prime Minister John Key last night branded Shearer "hypocritical", saying he had been "highly critical" of his ministers.

Last week the court heard Yan boasted to immigration officials he had MP friends who would ensure he got citizenship.

In closing arguments yesterday David Jones QC, for the defence, said allegations that Yan relied on political affiliations to progress his application were not substantiated.

The verdict will be delivered on Thursday by Justice Timothy Brewer.