Tycoon boasted of his MP mates

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 05:00 18/05/2012
Olele Gambo
JOHN SELKIRK/Fairfax Media
WITNESS: Internal Affairs case officer Olele Gambo leaves the High Court in Auckland.

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A Chinese millionaire on trial in the High Court at Auckland for fraud boasted to immigration officials that he had MP friends who would ensure he got citizenship.

The high-ranking officials were stunned when then Cabinet minister Shane Jones approved the application one day after getting his file. They were certain Yong Ming Yan, also known as Bill Liu, who had been red-flagged by Interpol, stood little chance.

But Yan leaned back in his chair, with his arms behind his head, and said he was 99 per cent confident he would get citizenship, the court was told yesterday.

"He said he had a lot of support from members of Parliament ... he was going to take them to China," Internal Affairs case officer Olele Johannes Gambo said.

If proven, the allegation of special treatment would be serious enough to warrant investigation by the police.

Yan was granted citizenship by Mr Jones in 2008, after officials repeatedly told him that Yan failed a required good character test, the court was told.

Mr Gambo said that when Yan was told he could not have citizenship, he said friends in Parliament would ensure he got it.

Mr Jones, who refused to comment on the allegations last night, was named in court with former Labour MP Dover Samuels.

The court was told Yan was sworn in as a citizen within a day of Mr Jones approving citizenship.

Yan had gained permanent residency and applied for citizenship in April 2008.

There was "a lot of pressure for us to complete the file", Mr Gambo told the court.

It was clear Yan would fail the good character test. He was wanted on Interpol Red Notices based on arrest warrants issued in China.

The file went to Mr Jones on May 23, 2008. Yan was sworn in as a New Zealander the next day. "It is very unusual," Mr Gambo said.

Internal Affairs investigating officer Bruce Ross told the court Yan was happy to let his application go to the minister.

The department then prepared a recommendation for the minister to decline the application on good character grounds.

Officials met twice with Mr Jones in Wellington.

Yan's age and true identity are unknown. Court files refer to him as William Yan, Bill Liu and Yang Liu, list several birth dates and say he arrived from China in 2001.

He is appearing before Justice Timothy Brewer on five charges that he fraudulently used documents to falsely claim New Zealand citizenship.

Mr Jones last night refused to comment "while it's in front of the court". He had "most certainly not" gone to China. Mr Samuels did not respond to a request for comment.

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- Fairfax Media

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