Chinese millionaire faces false identity charges

ON TRIAL: Yong Ming Yan arrives at the High Court in Auckland.
ON TRIAL: Yong Ming Yan arrives at the High Court in Auckland.

A millionaire naturalised Chinese New Zealander who used senior political connections to win citizenship has gone on trial in the High Court, Auckland, today on five charges linked to claims he created a false identity.

In a case that has been before the court for nearly two years, Yong Ming Yan, 41, has pleaded not guilty to five charges over claims he created a false identity in China to get citizenship.

Justice Timothy Brewer is hearing the case without a jury.

Originally Yan was charged with 12 offences but these, the court heard, had been reduced due to issues with evidence from China.

Yan, also known as William Yan, Bill Liu and Yang Liu, arrived in 2001.

He got citizenship with letters of support and lobbying from Labour's Dover Samuels and Chris Carter as well as National's Pansy Wong.

The Department of Internal Affairs opposed citizenship saying with two passports, two names and two birth dates they did not know who he was.

The trial was initially set down for 10 weeks but is expected to run three weeks with video evidence from Canada and Australia.

* This story has been amended. An earlier version incorrectly said then-Immigration Minister David Cunliffe granted citizenship to Yan.