New Zealand businessman William Yan has been refused the chance to go to the Supreme Court over whether the police should be liable for losses incurred from the seizure of his assets.

Yan, also known as Bill Liu, is number five on China's Top 100 extradition list, Prime Minister John Key said last week.

New Zealand Police, as part of a money-laundering inquiry, seized millions of dollars of assets they believe belong to Yan, under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act (the CPRA), in force since 2009.

No criminal charges have been laid against Yan and he denies any wrongdoing.


Detectives are working with Chinese authorities who claim Liu stole $129 million as the chairman of a pharmaceutical company in 2000.

The following year, Yan moved to New Zealand and was later granted citizenship, despite having multiple identities and an Interpol alert against his name.

In August 2014, police raided his $2.5 million penthouse and seized an estimated $40 million of assets.

Yan and his wife went to the High Court wanting an undertaking that police would meet any damages or loss as a result of freezing orders.

The judge refused to grant the bid, as did the Court of Appeal last year. They then applied for leave to take the case to the Supreme Court but this was dismissed yesterday.

Yan, his wife and two others wanted to argue that their case was of public importance because of the "draconian nature" of the CPRA, the increase in number and scope of freezing orders and the "need for a safeguard against state power".

Justices William Young, Terence Arnold and Mark O'Regan accepted these sorts of police undertakings may present issues that ought to be addressed by the Supreme Court. "But we do not see this case as an appropriate case for us to do so," they said.