Jared Savage

Jared Savage is the New Zealand Herald's investigations editor.

Millionaire loses fight over charges

Businessman William Yan is on trial in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Businessman William Yan is on trial in the High Court at Auckland. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A High Court judge has rejected a bid to have immigration charges against a millionaire businessman thrown out.

And in a further boost to the Crown case against William Yan - also known as Yang Liu and Yong Ming Yan - Justice Timothy Brewer has ruled that evidence from an Australian investigator is admissible against him.

Yan is on trial in the High Court at Auckland after pleading not guilty to four charges relating to false declarations on immigration papers in 2001 and 2002 and one of using false written statements to get citizenship.

The wealthy businessman was granted New Zealand citizenship in August 2008 under the name Yang Liu, despite advice from Department of Internal Affairs officials that he did not meet the good character test. Just days later he changed his name to William Yan, the name he is being prosecuted under.

The department's case officer, Johannes Gambo, told the court Yan boasted that he had politician friends who would ensure he was granted citizenship.

When told he would not receive citizenship, Yan said he was 99 per cent sure he would, according to Mr Gambo.

"He said he had a lot of support from members of Parliament ... he was going to take them to China."

Labour MP Shane Jones, a Cabinet minister at the time, later approved the application.

The Crown has concluded the prosecution case against Yan after two weeks, in a trial which is being heard by a judge alone.

The court has heard that Yan has two passports, with different names and birth dates, which were not revealed when he applied for residency.

On Friday, Justice Brewer turned down an application by defence counsel David Jones, QC, to have four of the five charges against his client thrown out.

The judge said there was sufficient evidence for Yan to be found guilty if he looked at the Crown case in "the most favourable light", therefore the charges could not be dismissed and the trial should continue.

But Justice Brewer stressed he had not made a ruling on the strength of the evidence yet.

He also ruled that the evidence of an Australian immigration investigator was admissible against Yan, in which the court heard that Yan's bid for citizenship in Australia "unravelled" when his dual identities were discovered.

Earlier in the trial, Mr Jones said Yan was born with one name and a date of birth which was entered on the system. He was then fostered out as a child and given a new name.

Mr Jones said that explained the second identity.

He said the Crown had been relying on a motive for Yan using a different name in New Zealand because he was facing an arrest warrant in China.

Mr Jones said there was evidence that "the Communist Party in China uses the law to prosecute people who are pro-democracy".

The trial continues today.

- NZ Herald

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