A millionaire businessman at the centre of a political scandal has been found not guilty of immigration fraud charges.
William Yan - also known as Yang Liu and Yong Ming Yan - pleaded 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.
He was found not guilty on all five charges against him in the High Court in Auckland this morning.
The wealthy Chinese-born immigrant 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.
Labour MP Shane Jones has been stood down as the Auditor-General considers investigating his decision to grant Yan citizenship on what he claims were humanitarian grounds.
Justice Timothy Brewer said the case had nothing to do with political connections and commentary.
His decision was based on the evidence in court about whether false declarations had been made on documents.
He said he found that the Crown had not reached the level of proof of beyond reasonable doubt which the judge said was a very high standard.
He said that on the evidence the most the Crown had achieved was a 'high level of suspicion" and that fell short of the standard of proof required to convict.
The judge said he would give a written reason for his decision later.
Mr Yan made no comment when he left the court.
But his friend, former Labour minister Dover Samuel welcomed the decision.
In a statement issued this morning, Labour leader David Shearer noted the court decision and stood by his decision to ask for an investigation into Mr Jones' actions.
An investigation would clear up the differences between evidence presented in court and Mr Jones' recollection of his decision to grant citizenship to Mr Yan, Mr Shearer said.
"Shane Jones assured me that he had followed the correct and proper process when handling this case as a former Minister in 2008. I accepted his assurance.
"The reasons we have asked the Auditor-General to investigate the case still stand.
Shane Jones must be given the opportunity to clear his name given the apparent differences in evidence given during the court case and Shane's recollection of events.
"New Zealand is highly regarded as being a country with open and transparent government. We must protect that reputation and reassure New Zealanders that ministerial and departmental processes are sound."
- Herald and Herald Online staff