Three people have today been found guilty under the Crimes Act of using sham donors to make political donations, thereby concealing the identity of the true donor from the public.
The Serious Fraud Office charged seven people with obtaining by deception in connection with donations made to both the Labour and National parties in 2017 and 2018. The charge carries a maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment.
The SFO alleged Yikun Zhang, Colin Zheng, Joe Zheng, Jami-Lee Ross and three others with name suppression worked together to make the donations in a way that skirted the requirements of the Electoral Act.
The SFO also alleged that Joe Zheng supplied false or misleading information in the SFO investigation.
Auckland businessman Mr Zhang was today found guilty in relation to a 2018 donation of $100,050 to the National Party. He was found not guilty in relation to a 2017 donation of $100,000 to the party.
Colin Zheng was found guilty in relation to both donations.
Joe Zheng was found guilty in relation to the 2018 donation as well as guilty of obstructing the SFO investigation by providing false or misleading information.
Mr Ross was found not guilty on all charges.
Mr Zhang, Mr Zheng, Mr Zheng and three others with name suppression were found not guilty on charges related to a donation to the Labour Party in 2017.
“New Zealanders have the right to know who is funding the party they support and to be able to make an informed decision when they head to the voting booths,” says SFO Director Karen Chang.
“Transparency around political donations is vital to the continued health of New Zealand’s democracy and our global reputation for low levels of corruption, both of which deserve protecting.
“It is extremely important we take action when we believe this reputation is at risk.”
The defendants who were found guilty are due to appear for sentencing on 30 November.