Prime Minister John Key is refusing to say how much he knew about Donghua Liu's donations to Labour.
The Auckland property developer says he paid $100,000 for a bottle of wine at a 2007 fundraiser, but Labour says it can't find any record of the donation and has commissioned an audit.
Last week Key made a number of assertions about the millionaire's links to Labour. Though he told reporters he knew about a written statement from Liu "a few weeks ago", he is refusing to say who told him.
Labour believes the revelations came to light as part of a "dirty tactics" campaign by National.
Liu has also given cash to National and has links to Maurice Williamson, who was forced to quit as a minister after contacting police about a domestic abuse case involving Liu.
Labour leader David Cunliffe yesterday pointed to the date of the statement, which was written in May, about the time of Williamson's resignation.
Key said: "I was told that there was [donations to Labour]. I'm not going to talk about my sources."
However, he said he had not seen the statement and did not know if anyone in his office had. "I've heard about it.
"I can't tell you the particular people I talk to, but what I can say is that there is plenty of discussion out there about the fact. And it didn't come as any surprise to me that Donghua Liu had been both a donor to National and Labour."
Key said he did not know if his MPs were in touch with Chinese-born Liu. "I'm certainly not."
Key opened Liu's $70 million hotel development in 2011. Liu also met Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse to discuss policy.
Asked if the statement could have been written by a National Party figure, Key said: "You'll have to go and ask Donghua Liu who it was written by. I don't know the man other than opening his building that time. I wouldn't agree with that statement."
Key accused Cunliffe of "gotcha politics" and "a fair degree of hypocrisy".
"When National engaged with a Chinese donor it was cash for access. Actually when they [Labour] do it, it wasn't," he said.
But he agreed Liu should front up with evidence of the gift.
Cunliffe ran into trouble last week when he claimed not to know Liu.
Days later a 2003 letter emerged showing he had inquired about Liu's immigration application for permanent residency.
- The Dominion Post
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