A wealthy Chinese man who was granted New Zealand citizenship hid a second identity from authorities when he made his application, a court has been told.

William Yan - also known as Yang Liu and Yong Ming Yan - pleaded not guilty in the High Court at Auckland today to four charges relating to false declarations on immigration papers in 2001 and 2002 and using false written statements to get citizenship.

Yan, a millionaire, was granted New Zealand citizenship in August 2008 under the name Yang Liu.

Just days later he changed his name to William Yan, the name he is being prosecuted under.


The focus of the trial will be on how much Yan knew about his immigration and residency documents - not on the circumstances of his citizenship.

Today in court, Crown prosecutor David Johnstone said Yan used a variety of methods to hide a second identity from immigration authorities.

He said Yan was married and had a second identity in the name of Yong Ming Yan but did not disclose those facts when he applied for residency in New Zealand.

Mr Johnstone said Yan also travelled using two different identities.

He said Yan's application for New Zealand citizenship in 2005 did not reveal his other identity.

The application form also asked if he had been the subject of any legal action or investigation.

Mr Johnstone said Yan answered "no", despite having been previously investigated by Australian Immigration authorities.

But Yan's lawyer David Jones, QC, said Yan was a "very wealthy man" and had employed other people to fill out his immigration and residency applications and in some cases did not even sign the document.


"Others filled it out on behalf of him and if there are errors on them, he was unaware."

Mr Jones said the defence intended to call evidence regarding how the Chinese citizen registration system worked.

He said Yan was born with one name and a date of birth which was entered on to the system.

Yan was then fostered out as a child and given a new name. Mr Jones said that explained the second identity and there would be evidence that was not unusual.

He said the Crown had been relying on a motive for Yan using a different name in New Zealand because he was facing an arrest warrant in China.

Mr Jones said there was evidence that "the Communist Party in China uses the law to prosecute people who are pro-democracy".

Justice Timothy Brewer said that no doubt the party also issued arrest warrants against those they believed have genuinely broken the law.

Mr Johnstone said the motive behind Yan's alleged offending was not at issue.

"It doesn't matter why Yan left China, only that he came to New Zealand without telling the truth about his names."

The trial is set down for two weeks.

Born: Yong Ming Yan
Granted Citizenship as: Yang Liu
Changed to: William Yan