MPs' rich friend arrested at airport

By Jared Savage, Phil Taylor

Police have charged a multi-millionaire businessman, who was granted New Zealand citizenship in controversial circumstances, with making false declarations on immigration papers and using fake identities to obtain a passport.

Yong Ming Yan - also known as Bill Liu, Yang Liu and William Yan - was supported in his citizenship bid last year by Labour MPs Dover Samuels and Chris Carter, and National MP Pansy Wong.

Police arrested him last Saturday as he was about to board a plane to leave the country.

He appeared in Manukau District Court, and is facing 12 charges in relation to false declarations on his immigration papers, having false passports and using deception to gain citizenship.

Yan entered no plea to eight charges under the Crimes Act, two under the Passport Act and one under each under the Immigration Act and Citizenship Act.

Police opposed bail, but Judge Gus Andree Wiltens approved it, setting strict residency, curfew and reporting conditions.

The bail conditions were altered when Yan appeared before Judge Oke Blaikie in the Auckland District Court yesterday. He is required to report to Auckland central police station twice daily.

Weekend Herald inquiries found that two Auckland properties owned by Yan, an apartment in the Metropolis tower and a waterfront home on the North Shore, were sold on January 12 for $10.5 million.

The criminal charges are embarrassing for several MPs who assisted Yan's successful bid for citizenship, granted last August.

Yan became a New Zealand citizen under the name Yang Liu, but changed his name days later and was granted a passport in the name of William Yan.

Passports he held in two other names were earlier seized by investigators.

He was granted citizenship in a VIP ceremony in Wellington last year after lobbying from former Labour MP Dover Samuels, who regards him as a close friend.

Rick Barker, the then Internal Affairs Minister charged with approving citizenship applications, was also on the list of politicians who knew Yan. Because of this, he passed the file to another minister, Shane Jones.

Mr Jones overruled Internal Affairs advice that Liu - now Yan - did not meet character requirements and granted him citizenship.

Mr Jones, now the Opposition spokesman for economic development and the environment, last night declined to comment.

Among the reasons officials gave for opposing Liu's citizenship application was that they did not know his true identity as he had two names, two passports and two birthdates.

The citizenship was granted nine months after officials advised the Immigration Minister at the time, David Cunliffe, that dual identities allegedly used by Liu were grounds to revoke his permanent residency.

In 2006, Australian authorities sent to the Chinese Government A$3.37 million seized from bank accounts that Liu controlled.

The money was frozen because authorities suspected him of opening and operating bank accounts using a false name. He agreed to forfeit the money without admitting liability.

He was also known as Bill Liu in New Zealand, where he has been a resident since 2002.

Chinese authorities allege that his real name is Yong Ming Yan and that he stole the identity of a Yang Liu by falsely registering his birth in 1999.

Yan is well known in Chinese business circles and owns the Jade Terrace restaurant in Manukau.

The restaurant hosted election fundraising dinners last year for Labour candidate Raymond Huo, National's Ms Wong and Act's Kenneth Wang.

Yan also made donations of $5000 each to Labour and National in 2005.


MAN OF MANY NAMES

Born: Yong Ming Yan

Known as: Bill Liu

Citizenship as: Yang Liu

Changed to: William Yan

Charged as: Yong Ming Yan

Friend of MPs: Dover Samuels, Rick Barker and Pansy Wong

- NZ Herald

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