Labour MP Shane Jones knew there were serious questions over the true identity of Chinese millionaire Yong Ming Yan when he gave him a New Zealand passport.
A judge will tomorrow deliver his verdict on Yan, who has been accused of passport fraud.
Mr Jones finally fronted up to answer questions about the case yesterday, six days after Internal Affairs officials said in court that they were surprised when Mr Jones overruled their advice and approved citizenship in August 2008.
Last night he claimed a "senior government official" told him Yan would be arrested, executed and his organs harvested if he were sent back to China. Earlier he would only say he based his decision to approve citizenship on "humanitarian grounds".
Mr Jones admitted he knew there were questions about Yan's identity. "I certainly know that there was a live issue as to whether or not this man is who he says he was ... there was always a mystery ... Those were allegations."
Immigration officials asked for Yan's residency to be revoked in April 2008 and were told by minister David Cunliffe "to keep digging." Mr Jones said he was not briefed by Mr Cunliffe or immigration officials.
The file sent to him by Internal Affairs in July 2008 details the immigration investigation and notes a search warrant had been executed at Yan's home.
Mr Jones said he knew about Interpol red notices – issued because the Chinese Government ordered arrest warrants for alleged fraud totalling $2.7 million. "Yes, yes that was referred to [in Yan's case file]. And that related to allegations that the Chinese Government, as I recall, was making."
The file shows Yan was known as Bill Liu and applied for citizenship in the name Yang Liu – a name Chinese authorities alleged he had stolen in 1999.
The documents also detail three claimed dates of birth for Yan.
Mr Cunliffe confirmed he had received a request to revoke Yan's residency but asked officials to keep investigating.
"The bar for the revocation of residency is a high one. From memory, the evidence proposed to me from officials didn't meet that bar and I asked them to continue digging ... There was some evidence."
The trial has laid bare Yan's links to the Labour Party. His citizenship bid received a number of letters of support, including from former MPs Dover Samuels and Chris Carter. Mr Cunliffe said yesterday he had been lobbied by "two or three" colleagues on Yan's behalf but declined to say who.
Leader David Shearer has defied calls to sack Mr Jones, choosing to accept his frontbencher's assurances he acted appropriately.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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