Key Points:

Former immigration minister Tuariki John Delamere set out to deceive the very department he had been in charge of, with an elaborate plan of fraud, the High Court in Auckland was told today.

Crown prosecutor Simon Moore told a jury the former New Zealand First MP used his knowledge of immigration laws, many of which he had written himself, to help Chinese migrants beat the system.

Delamere faces 20 charges, including nine counts of using forged documents, seven counts of using a document with intent to defraud and four counts of using a document dishonestly.

Through his immigration consultancy company -- Tuariki Delamere and Associates (TDA) -- Delamere used a scheme designed to make Chinese migrants look eligible to immigration officials when they were not, Mr Moore said.

The charges were brought by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) which alleged Delamere falsely told the Immigration Service that seven clients had each invested $1 million of their own money with a New Zealand company -- qualifying them for residency under the business migration category.

The SFO alleged Delamere's Chinese business partner Yan Jiang contributed the $1 million to New Zealand Golden Harvest, a company the pair had jointly set up and the money was used seven times for seven different applications.

Mr Moore described the scheme as a "money-go-round" involving the bank account of Hong Kong company Harvest International.

Mr Jiang was a "puppet" undertaking some tasks but under the direction of Mr Delamere, Mr Moore said.

The charges range from October 2001 to March 2004.

Mr Moore said as a minister Delamere had been the architect of the same framework which he used to deceive immigration officials with.

"This is an important case because the man is a former minister of the Crown."

Mr Moore said the Crown rejected Mr Delamere's defence that he was "exploiting a loophole".

"Look at what he did and did not do," he told the jury of eight women and four men.

Delamere entered politics in the 1996 elections, when he successfully stood as a candidate for the New Zealand First party in the Te Tai Rawhiti electorate and was appointed to Cabinet as part of New Zealand First's coalition deal with the National Party.

Among the roles he held was Minister of Immigration

The trial has been set down for four weeks and the Crown is expected to call 22 witnesses.

- NZPA