National and in particular Jami-Lee Ross and John Key have been busted in a donation saga.
And the best they can come up with is a version of the Father Ted defence…”the money was just resting in my account”.
As Father Dougal MacQuire says…”a good long rest”.
Electoral returns out next week will confirm that a National Party MP received $25,000 from a controversial businessman after Prime Minister John Key had a private dinner with him – at the man’s home.
The PM has always maintained that he met Donghua Liu at a National Party fundraiser but would never say where. Today, the Weekend Herald can reveal that the fundraiser was actually a private dinner at Mr Liu’s $4.75 million home in Remuera, where a smiling Mr Key and Jami-Lee Ross, the MP for Botany, were photographed alongside Mr Liu and his young family.
Afterwards, Mr Liu donated $25,000 that same month to Mr Ross’ election campaign. But the following year, Mr Liu became a political embarrassment for the Government after a Herald investigation revealed the impact of the property developer’s links to the National Party.
Maurice Williamson was forced to resign as a minister when the Herald revealed he had called police after Mr Liu was arrested on domestic violence charges and told them Mr Liu was a big investor in New Zealand.
Mr Key said then that Mr Williamson had “crossed the line”.
Shortly after the election, Mr Ross refunded the large donation from Mr Liu’s company – 15 months after it was given. Mr Ross has since disclosed the donation in candidate returns for the 2014 election due to be released by the Electoral Commission next week.
Mr Liu is upset that Mr Ross refunded the $25,000 cheque, which he regarded as a “slap in the face”.
The 53-year-old pleaded guilty to the domestic violence charges in April last year, but was in the Auckland District Court this week seeking to withdraw those admissions. He was successful and the case is likely to now head to trial.
Outside court, he told the Herald he gave $25,000 to Mr Ross through the “Botany Cabinet Club” and “subsequently this amount was refunded”.
“It was very strange. The refund was sent to my lawyer, I wasn’t told about it in person.”