Falun Gong supporter Yong Ming Yan in charge

8 Dec

A millionaire immigrant built relationships with the country’s most powerful then used their names to try to hurry along a decision on his citizenship, according to prosecution evidence against him.

An Immigration New Zealand staff member has testified how Yong Ming Yan – also known as Bill Liu – used the names of senior politicians.

Yan has pleaded not guilty to eight criminal charges and four other charges stemming from his bid to settle in New Zealand.

He was granted citizenship in August last year after then-associate immigration minister Shane Jones ignored advice from officials, who wanted the Chinese-born businessman’s request declined.

The decision fell to Jones because Cabinet colleague Rick Barker – who should have made the decision – was an acquaintance of Yan.

Barker was among Yan’s list of political contacts, with his citizenship application bearing letters of support from Labour’s Chris Carter and Dover Samuels, and National’s Pansy Wong. All are former or current Cabinet ministers.

In the Crown evidence, Internal Affairs team leader Johannes Gambo said he was working through “character-related issues” on Yan’s citizenship.

He said “I wanted to know exactly who [Yan] was, because as far as I was concerned he had two names and two dates of birth which had not been properly registered”.

Gambo also testified that he was telephoned by Yan during the application process “saying he has big support”. He said Yan named Carter, Samuels and Wong as MPs who backed his citizenship.

Jones last week declined to explain why he approved Yan’s citizenship application during the court case. Barker said he had not seen Yan this year.

MP’s connection to scandal

Labour MP Rick Barker’s new business partner testified to the identity of Yong Ming Yan, who was at the centre of a scandal that unbalanced the party’s election campaign.

Shareholder Shane Phillips’ name emerged last week in court documents setting out the Crown case. Yan denies the charges .

The documents show Yan applied for a passport in the name of Yang Liu, and was backed up by Phillips.

Yan has said the different name stemmed from being fostered as a child.

Barker and Phillips are minority shareholders in a new company called NZ Pure Product Trading Ltd.

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