Labour MP Shane Jones has received a draft copy of the auditor-general's report into his 2008 decision to grant Chinese billionaire William Yan citizenship, the report on which his political career hangs.

Neither Mr Jones nor MP David Cunliffe, who is also understood to have received a copy of the draft, will comment on the report.

However, sources suggested Mr Jones was optimistic that its contents were not damaging enough to harm his chances of a comeback to Labour's front bench.

Responses to the report are due within the next fortnight after which the auditor-general's office will release its final report.


That will open the way for Mr Shearer's reshuffle of his caucus. When he asked the auditor-general to investigate the issue and stood Mr Jones down he said he would reinstate him if the report cleared him.

Depending on the content of the draft report, he could set about that before waiting for the final version. He is understood to be willing to ride out any relatively minor criticism of Mr Jones and reinstate him unless the report shows serious and deliberate misjudgment.

Mr Jones acted against officials' advice in deciding to allow the citizenship application in his capacity as associate immigration minister. The issue was delegated to him by Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker, who knew Mr Yan personally. At the time, Mr Yan was being investigated for holding multiple identities and was wanted in China on fraud allegations.

Mr Jones has previously said he was told by an official that Mr Yan risked being executed if he returned to China.

Mr Yan was last year found not guilty of making false statements on immigration papers - a case which the Judge said was "highly suspicious" but lacked the necessary evidence of an intention to mislead officials.

Mr Cunliffe was Immigration Minister until 2007. He refused officials' recommendation to revoke Mr Yang's residency and instead asked them to investigate Mr Yan's case further and report back. Mr Cunliffe was no longer Immigration Minister when Mr Jones handled the case.

A spokeswoman for Labour leader David Shearer said he had not yet seen the report.

"If it is the case that it clears him then obviously David will be pleased to welcome Shane back to his full capacity as an MP in the Labour team. He sought the report to give Shane the opportunity to clear his name and if the report does that, then he will be very pleased."

A spokeswoman for the Office of the Auditor General confirmed the draft report had been sent to affected parties but said the final report was still a few weeks away after feedback from affected parties was received.

The draft report will not be released.