Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed the Labour Party is checking to see if it has received any donations from the people who have been accused of illegally donating to the National Party.
Yesterday name suppression was lifted for the four people accused of making two $100,000 donations to the National Party that were allegedly split into eight smaller amounts to keep the identity of the donors from being publicly disclosed.
Those charged, who have strenuously denied any wrongdoing and pledged to fight the charges, are independent MP Jami-Lee Ross, businessman Yikun Zhang, businessman Shijia (Colin) Zheng and Hengjia (Joe) Zheng.
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Last year the case was referred to the Serious Fraud Office after Ross, a former National MP, brought it to light in an attempt to discredit National Party leader Simon Bridges.
Bridges has always denied any wrongdoing and, when the charges were laid, noted that no one in the National Party had been accused.
Zhang was awarded a New Zealand Order of Merit in 2018 for services to New Zealand-China relations and has courted politicians of all stripes.
He has been photographed with Ardern at a Labour Party fundraiser in Auckland in the lead-up to the 2017 election.
Asked today about any donations to Labour from Zhang, Ardern said: "That's something I understand they are checking."
Asked if Labour would accept a donation from Zhang, she said: "I'm not personally the individual that has that responsibility."
The Herald asked Labour's general secretary, Andre Anderson, yesterday if Labour had received any donations from any of the accused, and was told that Labour was checking its records and would respond today.
No response has yet been received.
A spokesperson for Ardern told Newsroom last year that Ardern had not received any personal donations from Zhang, and any donations to the party, if any, would have been under the disclosure threshold as none had been declared to the Electoral Commission.
Zhang has made a donation to Phil Goff, a former Labour MP, for his 2016 Auckland mayoral campaign; it was an individual contribution to a total $366,115 haul from a fundraising auction.
A spokesman for Goff told the Herald: "The campaign has complied with disclosure requirements as per the law. All sizeable donations are online as returns have been filed and can be found there."
Yesterday Act Party leader David Seymour said he had rejected a number of dinner invitations from Zhang.
"Multiple times the guy invited me to have a private dinner at his house and I thought, 'That sounds dodgy' and never went."
He said he had "no idea" what his intentions were.
"But generally speaking, I'm happy to meet with members of the public in my office – I don't normally go to their house for dinner if I don't know them and we can't speak the same language and can't have a conversation."
Ross said yesterday that he had been the whistleblower, and the charges against him were outrageous.
Legal counsel for Zhang and the two Zhengs said their clients would also fight the charges.
"Our clients are proud New Zealanders and philanthropists. They were urged to follow a process and are now deeply disappointed at being caught up in a donation's fiasco," John Katz, QC, Paul Dacre, QC, and Rosemary Thomson said in a statement.