An international mogul with nearly $70 million in frozen Kiwi assets has lost an appeal bid after being ordered to hand over his financial records, passwords and details of his accountants and lawyers.
Xiao Hua Gong, also known as Edward Gong, is a controversial entrepreneur known for building a business empire through a hotel chain and television channels in Toronto.
However, he was arrested in Canada in December 2017 over an alleged $202m pyramid scheme involving the suspected fraudulent sale of hundreds of millions of dollars in shares in China.
Nine months before his arrest, the High Court of New Zealand granted the Commissioner of Police freezing orders for some $70m of Gong's assets here, held in bank accounts and property.
Now Gong, who was friendly with and donated to Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, has lost a challenge against an order forcing him to hand over a tranche of information.
Court papers obtained by the Herald show police were after details of all of Gong's and related entities' bank accounts, or any account for which Gong has signing authority.
They also sought information of all "entities, property, and assets in which he has any interest; and all business, conveyancing, financial, meeting, and tax records, including accounting electronic backups and passwords".
Details of all his business connections, accountants and lawyers were also targeted by police.
And information "produced for the purposes of the alleged health supplements scheme, and of the supplier factory" was also sought.
Gong's new lawyer, David Jones QC, argued the information his client was being ordered to disclose was not ordinarily discoverable and required an unreasonable and oppressive scope.
Justice Pheroze Jagose, however, dismissed the applications for leave to appeal his interim and final judgments, the second of which was from December last year.
"In contemplating the justice of Mr Gong being required in the meantime to make pre commencement discovery as I ordered, I should not disregard Mr Gong had offered to provide the information sought when interviewed in New Zealand, but then failed to do so and now resists its availability, in continuance of the pattern of his engagements with the Commissioner," he said in a decision this month.
Justice Jagose also noted if he refused leave the Court of Appeal may nonetheless grant it.
"Granting leave now permits pointless additional effort and expense on intermediate appeal," he said.
At a hearing in June when the restraining orders against Gong's New Zealand assets were extended, concerns were also raised about the progress of the record civil forfeiture case.
Justice Sarah Katz said police raised an eyebrow about Gong's conduct which appeared to be allegedly "engaging in other delaying tactics".
The mogul has denied the charges and allegations that his financial success and influence was gained from the alleged scheme selling medicines in China, while NZ police argue Gong was hiding money here to distance himself from the alleged fraud.
Earlier this year, Auckland firm Jiaxin Finance was fined $2.55m for failing to report 311 and $53.4m worth of suspicious transactions belonging to Gong.
The company's sole director Qiang Fu was personally fined $180,000, while Fu's mother Fuqin Che, who was also found guilty of structuring a transaction, was stung with a $202,000 penalty.
The case, revealed by the Herald, was the first of its kind in New Zealand's courts since specific anti-money laundering laws were introduced a decade ago.