Three people were sentenced at the High Court today over deceitful conduct which threatened the integrity of New Zealand's electoral system.
The defendants were found guilty in October on charges related to using sham donors to make donations to the National Party of $100,000 in 2017 and $100,050 in 2018.
Each of these large donations was split into smaller amounts, below the Electoral Act's disclosure threshold, in order to conceal the identity of the true donor.
Yikun Zhang, an influential businessman and Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, was sentenced to four months’ community detention and 200 hours of community work in relation to his role in the 2018 offending.
Shijia (Colin) Zheng was sentenced to five months’ community detention and 250 hours’ community work in relation to his role in both the 2017 and 2018 offending.
Henjia (Joe) Zheng was sentenced to three months’ community detention and 150 hours’ community work in relation to his role in the 2018 offending, and also for obstructing the Serious Fraud Office investigation by providing false or misleading information.
In sentencing the defendants today, Justice Gault said the offending involved deceitful conduct which undermines public trust and confidence in the democratic process and the public's right to know about large political donations.
“This was an important case which strikes at the heart of what we value in New Zealand – fairness, transparency and integrity,” says Serious Fraud Office Director Karen Chang.
“This was not a victimless crime. As Justice Gault observed in his sentencing, the public collectively suffers an injury when donations laws are circumvented.”