Jared Savage

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

Developer's alleged victims are his partner and her mother

Photo / File
Photo / File

The two women allegedly assaulted by a wealthy property developer granted citizenship after lobbying from a National Party minister are his partner and her mother.

Donghua Liu is charged with assaulting a woman and assault with intent to injure after an incident at the Boulevard Hotel in Newmarket, the first stage of a proposed $70 million property development by one of his companies.

Court documents show his de facto wife, Juan Zhang, was the alleged victim of the more serious charge, assault with intent to injure, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail.

Her mother, Lunju Wang, is listed as the alleged victim of the male assaults female charge.

Liu, 53, appeared in the specialist Family Violence Court held within the Auckland District Court in December and was bailed to a $2 million home in the suburb of Orakei.

One of his bail conditions was to surrender his firearms licence to police, although all his bail conditions have since been lifted.

Liu's lawyer, Todd Simmonds, said the charges were denied and would be vigorously defended.

Companies Office records show Ms Zhang is a director or shareholder in several companies with Liu. She is also a former director of the company that made a significant donation to the National Party.

The Herald revealed this week that Liu was given citizenship against official advice in 2010 after lobbying by National Party minister Maurice Williamson and the then Mayor of Auckland, John Banks.

The Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) recommended that the citizenship application of Liu be declined on the grounds that he did not spend enough time in New Zealand or meet English-language criteria.

However, one of Liu's business partners approached Mr Williamson and Mr Banks and they wrote to the then Minister of Internal Affairs, Nathan Guy, asking him to grant citizenship against the official advice.

"Invested in NZ and a lot of support", was a file note for the case released under the Official Information Act.

Mr Guy, who is no longer the Minister of Internal Affairs, told the Herald that he made the final decision on more than 800 citizenship cases and regularly received correspondence from family and supporters of applicants.

He considered all of the evidence and said of Liu's application: "I considered at the time that, on balance, the potential benefits to New Zealand warranted the granting of citizenship."

The official recommendation of whether citizenship should be granted was ignored in 61 of the 1011 cases between 2009 and 2011.

But the 2010 case was one of several that caused concerns among DIA staff, who raised the possibility of favouritism with the Office of the Auditor-General during an inquiry into a citizenship decision made by Labour's Shane Jones when he was Associate Immigration Minister.

Mr Williamson, the Minister of Building and Construction, and Prime Minister John Key then opened the first stage of a proposed $70 million construction project launched by the Chinese-born developer after he became a citizen.

The following year, the firm that owns the land earmarked for the project donated $22,000 to National.

- NZ Herald

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