Serious Fraud Office launches investigation into donations made to Labour in 2017; Party hasn't been told of the specifics of the inquiry

Serious Fraud Office launches investigation into donations made to Labour in 2017; Party hasn't been told of the specifics of the inquiry
Jacinda Ardern

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is launching an investigation into donations made to the Labour Party in 2017.

It will not however say exactly what it is investigating. 

Labour Party President Claire Szarbo said the party hadn't been told "the specifics of the inquiry", but would fully cooperate.

The SFO said: "The fact that the SFO has commenced an investigation is not an indication of guilt. In order to commence an investigation, the Serious Fraud Office Act requires that the Director must have reasonable grounds to believe that a relevant offence may have been committed. The Director does not have to be satisfied that an offence has been committed."

Its Director Julie Read said: “We consider that making the current announcement is consistent with our past practice in this area of electoral investigations and in the public interest.”

While Szarbo wouldn't make further statements while the investigation is underway, she said: "For completeness however, we note that we have already made statements to media in February confirming that two men who were then being investigated by the SFO and had made donations to the National Party, had also made donations to Labour."

Shijia Zheng (Colin) donated $1,940 to Labour in 2018, and Hengjia Zheng (Joe) donated $10,000 in 2017 by buying a piece of art at an auction. Labour said both transactions were included in the party's returns.

Zheng and Zheng have been charged alongside former National MP, Jami-Lee Ross, and Chinese businessman, Yikun Zhang, in relation to donations made to the National Party Botany Electorate in 2017 ($100,000) and 2018 ($100,050).

The case will go to trial in September 2021. 

The SFO also has investigations underway in relation to donations made to the New Zealand First Foundation, as well as in relation to Auckland Council and Christchurch City Council mayoral electoral funding.

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53 Comments

Nothing matters but that beautiful smile on the photo, Labour will win the election in a landslide

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Sorry, but that toothy grin gives me the shivers.

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I am no Ardern fan but this is how a child would comment.

That and the "name blending" insults such as Taxcinda. It's the sort of stuff we used to do at primary school.

So the same men who gave National over $200k gave Labour $12k but somehow this is a slight on JA personally? I think perhaps we should wait for the investigation before jumping to conclusions that she was personally aware of a $12k donation that she agreed to some corrupt agreement for.

I think we should perhaps consider that there is something more broadly wrong with NZ politics and its relationship to Chinese money and that they are all in on it and whilst Labour are far from perfect, clearly National have their snouts much more firmly in that particularly trough.

You say "wait for the investigation" and then assert your own biased opinion.
Lets hope those in charge aren't as biased as your unproven assertions.

An interesting point to make and likewise an interesting photo selection to caption as this is surely more of a question for the Labour Party itself, than the PM. Still it is natural, and she is very good at being that in my opinion, compared to some of her predecessors that is.

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Open and transparent ... but only if comparing something non-transparent

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Christchurch City Council is rotten to the core. Dalziel should be in chains.

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It’s only July J.C. but do believe you have just won the understatement of the year category, hands down.

Hahahahahaha, you obviously haven't heard of Auckland Council.

"One Council to rule them all, One Council to find them, One Council to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them"

Interesting timing - a complaint must have been laid some weeks ago, and the obvious beneficiaries would have been making a meal of this, except that last week Boag happened.

It was a man dressed as a homeless bloke, who was seen dropping a paper bag; obviously stuffed full of illegal donation cash, at the front entrance to the Labour Party headquarters. I can't tell you who the source of that information is on the grounds of confidentiality. But it's someone whose an impeccable source who has never lead me astray. But it needs looking into. Isn't that right, Michael?

"However, the SFO did not elaborate on the particulars of the investigation, which appears to have blindsided the party.'

And the size of the said paper bag ?

Good point upthread; it's a sad day when Int.co has to trot out a picture of a Parliamentary leader, to represent a political Party. Speaks volumes.

As to the 'news'- it appears they are all trying to push the boundaries. As are those who would influence by donating. Time we funded and capped campaign advertising, completely.

What is incredible is that we are represented in parliament by those who make our laws. Is that not for gawds sake a reasonably solemn & serious responsibility? Yet here are such laws being immediately defeated by the very people who created them! It sucks!

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I don't understand what "speaks volumes", powerdownkiwi. When you write breaking news, you use whatever picture you can source in about 30 seconds from your database, which best suits the story. This story is about Labour, and the picture selected is of the party's leader. Alternatively, I could've used a Labour Party logo, but didn't have a current, properly formatted one on file. There's no conspiracy here.

Didn't say there was.

But I do challenge you that journalism could have halted/resisted the reduction to presidential, simple sound-byte spin-doctory at ever-lower intellectual levels, and that part of that would have been widening the lens.

One "d" in powerdownkiwi. I misread his/her name too until recently.

You shouldn't have to defend yourself on the choice of picture. Particularly when it is the leader of the Labour party being used. As with all leaders - ultimate responsibility sits with her. Her photo is used enough for all the "good" news stories without issue, so I see no problem with this in the slightest.

Further, Labour was openly struggling with donations up until she was annouced as leader. When she came on board so did the donations. So I think it is entirely relevant to the story.

Apart from just bad photos, like the ones we all delete immediately (ourselves) and should not be used, the only time you should choose not to use one would be when handed one which is clearly photo shopped like the old Helen Clark one was.

I'm confused, is this a bad photo? She looks fine?

it looks like all the parties were using structures to try to hide donations, its time the whole lot was cleaned up

Why is the SFO investigating National, NZ First and Labour just prior to the election. Its Madness.

True. Am glad it's being investigated across all parties. Auctions have been used for years to record donations coming in. I guess the concern is that if people are donating massive amounts for trivial items then much more transparency is needed. I would heartily agree.

Parties have had to record the results of these auctions for decades, at least, so wonder what the specifics of the issues are these days.

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Another smokescreen, more distractions. Give everyone a hug and it's all good, smile for the camera, and let's have an enquiry.. As far as I'm concerned we should just not vote en masse, as a protest.. This country is slowly but surely slipping into mediocrity, championed by the retards we have been saddled with thanks to this absolute bastardization called MMP. "Goodbye and thanks for the fish" has some relevance.

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"Slipping into mediocrity" man you got that right. We're working on several rma land use applications. Heaps of lengthy reports to pay for and more than likely will not be approved. On one, we've been strongly "advised" by council to have discussions with the local hapu/iwi. Does that mean that if the iwi say no then council will oppose... What exactly is the point of having a council.

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Down here in ChCh our family building a replacement EQ home 40mm one corner over the recession plane, $3,500.00 to get approval under existing rights. Yet a new school in the same district is 2 metres over. Oh no one checked, noticed or reported and the council says it doesn’t really matter now because the building is up and who cares. Go figure, hells bells was not not the site surveyed, who interpreted that? We had to get ours done twice. Ref J.C. post as above at 4.50pm.

The size of the friggin fee is criminal, what justifies it. Funny thing, that the mayor is ex-labour mp

HW it gets worse. The second survey they requested revealed that the 40mm overreach was incorrect. There was in fact no need to have applied for an exemption. There was no refund, but there was a $500.00 charge for withdrawing the application.

Either you'd scream or would laugh, no in between there FG

Who can I vote for in this banana republic?
Is the SFO interfering in the outcome of an election with this disclosure at this time?

Maybe you could wait to see what the outcome of the investigation is. But yes , these investigations in all parties need to be wrapped up quickly in an election year .

Who the heck do you vote for then? Swamp hens or porcine long snouts the lot of them. Could you trust any single one of them?

"porcines". haha!

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Surely it is time to finance our political parties. The idea of giving my hard earned money in tax to pay for our political parties goes against the grain but (a) either we do or the CCP does (b) the cost of subsidizing our political parties is likely to be less than paying for the SFO and its multiple investigations.

Not to mention the eye-watering costs of a fully-corrupted legislature like in USA.

The problem arises, how much weighting do you give the individual parties. And its interactive. Pay more, get a higher ranking in the polls. And as we have seen in the US and Oz and UK, do you trust the polls?

Certainly not based on opinion polls. I would leave it to voters - when I vote I'm given a voucher that can only be cashed by a registered political party. That way I can vote Lab or Nat to run the next govt and give my $10 voucher to say TOP or ACT or Cannabis Now (if there is such a party) or even Destiny NZ - all parties with no hope at the election but maybe deserving encouragement.

This kind of challenge is nothing compared to the problems with the current system.

Agree, counter to principle, but some malign financing with too much power at moment. Base on average polling in year leading to election

Wasn't an issue when politics was left -v- right and financing was unions -v- businesses. Now it is precisely the wrong people who are financing our parties.

Getting rid of bribes (let's face it, that's what the donations are intended to be by the large donors) is the single biggest improvement we could make to New Zealand. Think about the improvement in policy and the the life of the average Kiwi Battler that would result.

The Crown vs Zheng, Zheng, Zhang and Ross...
Interesting how some of them donate to both major parties. I wonder what they want in return.

Surely the money comes from the goodness of their heart; they merely want to support democracy in NZ.

What you do is donate to both parties, then it doesn't matter who wins, the winner will have to do your bidding.

A bogey arises ?

Yeah I made some donations to Labour in 2017 based on their manifesto.

It's about time the serious fraud office got involved over their "aspirational" lies. I'd like my money back.

While you're at it, you should also calculate the 10 years of 2.5% additional GST you have paid and send a bill to the National Party. That was one big lie.

I never voted for them though.

Nope, but they made a promise to all New Zealanders that if elected they won't increase GST.

Todd Muller quits as Leader of National. Bring on the Crushed.

When are we finally going to shift to public funding of the parties to remove dirty money from the system? We either pay a few dollars each, or pay with corruption at the heart of our political system.