The Herald on Sunday reports:
Millionaire businessman Donghua Liu spent more than $150,000 on the previous Labour government, including $100,000 on a bottle of wine signed by former prime minister Helen Clark at a party fundraiser.
The embarrassing revelations are contained in a signed statement from Liu, which the Herald on Sunday has obtained.
This raises a few questions, like why the Herald ran a story yesterday that stated:
Liu said he would not make any further comments about political donations or swear an affidavit outlining dollar amounts.
But whatever. What’s going on? The options as I see them:
Liu is lying or mistaken.
Liu is telling the truth but the donation was structured in such a way the current Labour Party has no visibility of it
He’s telling the truth and Labour does know about the donation but Labour are being cute and Cunliffe is going to wind up on the news explaining that the donation was made by Liu investments, not Donghua Liu, or that it was made to the Labour Party Trust, not the Labour Party, or that under the electoral laws at the time spending $100,000 on a bottle of wine counted as a purchase not a donation, or some similar piece of sophistry.
In an ideal world the electoral commission could investigate and we’d find out before the election whether they’d ask the police to press charges, and get at least some indication of who is telling the truth.
Update: Andrew Geddis writes in the comments:
Well, given that (1) it is unlikely any offence was committed even if Liu did give $100,000 (or, bought wine for that amount) back in 2007; and (2) even if one was, the law had a time limit on prosecutions of 6 months, there is no chance of the police getting involved here at all.
We need to realise that the laws in place in 2007 weren’t those of today – it was quite possible to give this amount of money and still be “anonymous”. Just how Labour forgot that he did so is another matter.
It’ll be interesting to see what Labour comes back with. Given the events of the past few days I can’t see them trying to fudge or lie their way out of this. If they issue a strong denial and then the Herald pops up with some substantiating documentation then the leader, party president and general secretary will come under great pressure to resign, and Labour will probably end up replacing all its leadership roles a couple months out from the election.
Update 2: Andrew writes over at Pundit:
Well, if you go back to the financial returns from political parties for 2007, there is listed a donation to Labour of $150,000 from “Palmer Theron, Solicitors, on behalf of an undisclosed client” (as well as two other donations of $50,000 and $30,000 from other law firms on behalf of similaraly “undisclosed clients”). For balance, you might also note that in that year National reported $40,000 in anonymous donations, as well as $513,000 from three trusts that it had been using to launder donations previously.
Is it credible for Labour – after a week of denials – to now say something like, ‘We have no idea who gave us this very large sum of money and we cannot say that it was not Donghua Liu’?