Donghua Liu in court over property offences

Last updated 11:56 06/08/2014

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A Chinese developer with links to the National Party has pleaded guilty to two charges relating to Auckland housing developments.

Donghua Liu, 53, appeared before Judge Phil Gittos in the Auckland District Court today on charges under the Resource Management Act over housing developments on two properties worth $6 million in Remuera and Epsom.

He faces a fine of up to $300,000 or two years imprisonment and was remanded on bail until August 20 when a date for sentencing in the Environment Court will be set.

Auckland Council prosecution leader Vernon Tamatea told the judge that Liu had resource consent for changes to the properties but at one, on Westbury Cres, Remuera, building inspectors found he had not complied with the regulations.

Builders had dug an open trench with no support on the boundary, and excavations had taken place under the house.

"The officer considered it dangerous and cleared the site," Tamatea told the court.

Similar offences occurred at St Andrew's Rd, Epsom.

Tamatea said Liu was co-operative with the council and work did not resume until the sites were made safe.

Outside the court after the hearing, Liu's lawyer Paul Davison QC said it was appropriate for the council to bring prosecutions over the regulations, and Liu would offer an explanation at sentencing.

"It's embarrassing for him that he has found himself in this position but it doesn't reflect on his mode of doing business at all," Davison said.

"But in summary he appointed somebody to manage the two sites and it was somebody else's responsibility to comply with the regulations and conditions. Obviously those matters were not attended to properly.

"He's come to a new community, he's not an English-speaking person, he's complying with quite strict and stringent building controls."

Liu believed he was hiring people with the skill to do that.

"There is not much more that you could reasonably expect of him," Davison said, because Liu was well aware compliance was a requirement.

Liu was granted citizenship in 2010 after support from former housing minister Maurice Williamson and then-Auckland mayor John Banks.

He is also seeking resource consent to a $70m housing project in Alpers Ave in Newmarket.

The first stage was the refurbished Boulevard Hotel, opened by Prime Minister John Key in 2011.

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