23 Jun 2014

Labour rejects donation claims

4:02 pm on 23 June 2014

The Labour Party is rejecting a suggestion that large donations to the party by a Chinese businessman were made anonymously via a solicitor's account.

Claims have emerged that Labour received more than $100,000 in donations from Donghua Liu, who was at the centre of the ministerial resignation of National MP Maurice Williamson.

Labour Party general secretary Tim Barnett told Radio New Zealand's Morning Report programme on Monday that he had scoured the records and found nothing.

Mr Barnet dismissed a suggestion that a $150,000 anonymous donation made in 2007 via the law firm Palmer Theron might cover the Liu claims.

"What we've done is to check Donghua Liu's lawyer whether he has a link with any of the three law firms through which we receive donations and there's no link that we can see. The allegation is that he paid at an auction $100,000 - you wouldn't pay $100,000 as an anonymous donation through a lawyer."

The editor-in-chief of the Herald on Sunday says it stands by its decision to publish a statement from Mr Liu about donations to the Labour Party.

Editor-in-chief Tim Murphy said there were dates and other aspects of Mr Liu's statement the paper needed to clarify, but said the Herald verified the signed statement was from the businessman. He said it was yet to be seen whether Mr Lui's claims were correct, but said he would not hand the statement to Labour.

Prime Minister John Key on Monday again dismissed accusations that he is running a smear campaign against Labour leader David Cunliffe over the donation claims.

Labour says that Mr Key knew in advance about a statement signed by Mr Liu, but Mr Key denies this.

No inquiry by Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission says it is not make any inquiries into allegations Labour received two large donations from Donghua Liu in 2007.

The commission said on Monday it hasn't received any complaints or any information in relation to this. A spokesperson said if the commission received information which substantiates the allegations, then it would consider looking into them.

The Labour Party has said there are no records of the donations and has challenged Donghua Liu to provide evidence.