Donghua Liu's new statement on Labour donations

By Jared Savage

Left, Rick Barker receiving a bottle of wine from Donghua Liu's (top right) partner Juan Zhang. Photo / Supplied, NZ Herald
Left, Rick Barker receiving a bottle of wine from Donghua Liu's (top right) partner Juan Zhang. Photo / Supplied, NZ Herald

Controversial businessman Donghua Liu has issued a new statement to the Herald confirming "close to" $100,000 in total payments to Labour and its MPs - including anonymous donations - but clarifying that the money was not for one bottle of wine.

Liu, to whom Labour gave permanent residency against official advice, says his earlier signed statement on the wine auction was "capable of two meanings" and after repeated inquiries from the Herald he says he wants to clarify what he spent the $100,000 on.

The signed statement obtained by the Herald on Sunday said that at a 2007 Labour Party fundraiser, he "successfully bid on bottles of wine including one bottle signed by the then Prime Minister, the Rt. Hon Helen Clark, with a contribution of close to $100,000".

Read more: Liu donation to rowing club confirmed

The previous sentence in the signed statement said dinner and a boat trip on the Yangtze River in 2007 with a group including Rick Barker, the Minister for Internal Affairs at the time, which Liu estimated to cost between $50,000 to $60,000.

Today, Liu said: "I did say I made a contribution of close to $100,000 and that is my closing comment in my statement...that is how much I believe I have donated in total to Labour and some of their MPs during their last term in Government."

He said the figure was the total payments to Labour and its politicians which included the wine auctions, a $2000 donation to the Hawkes Bay Rowing Club, the Yangtze River trip and anonymous donations to MPs.

"I have no reason to inflate this number. It's as best as I can remember," said Liu.

The signed statement makes no mention of Liu winning an auction for a book, although Herald sources said he paid $15,000 for a book signed by Ms Clark.

"Again, as a private donor I donated to both Governments in good faith and without expectation. It is not my responsibility to make the appropriate political declarations," said Liu.

"Some of these donations were made anonymously which was perfectly legal and so such donations will only ever appear in some individual donation returns as anonymous."

His confirmation of the total sum of $100,000 will still leave Labour with a headache as it searches records for donations and the links between senior MPs and the wealthy businessman which emerged last week.

The Herald revealed party leader David Cunliffe wrote a letter for Liu's residency application, despite previous denials, and also Mr Barker's dinner with Liu on the Yangtze River.

Labour had earlier attacked the National Party for accepting 'cash for access' from Liu and others, and had criticised National's granting of citizenship to him, again against official advice.

National MP Maurice Williamson was also forced to resign from his ministerial portfolios last month after the Herald revealed he had called police officers about the criminal prosecution of Liu.

Given today's clarification, Mr Cunliffe said Labour was "most definitely" looking for an apology.

"I think it vindicates the position that we've taken which is that we have challenged Mr Liu and those reporting on him to produce the evidence to back their claims."

"It's very interesting that we find there was no $100,000 bottle of wine."

Asked about Liu's estimate of $50,000 to $60,000 as the cost of Mr Barker's Yangtze boat rip and the fact Liu included it in his estimate of his $$100,000 in donations to Labour, Mr Cunliffe said: "If I was Mr Barker I think I'd be entitled to feel pretty aggrieved about that.'

He didn't believe the figure was credible.

"I doubt that Mr Barker asked Mr Liu to take his entire company on a boat trip so it seems unfair if that was the cost, and who knows, to account it as a donation to Mr Barker or the Labour Party. Frankly it's ludicrous."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 22 Oct 2014 23:45:47 Processing Time: 407ms