Record $42.85m as­set seizure


‘‘The ac­tiv­ity un­der­ly­ing the for­fei­ture or­ders is al­leged money laun­der­ing.’’

The High Court has made the coun­try’s sin­gle largest for­fei­ture - $42.85 mil­lion worth of as­sets to set­tle an al­leged money laun­der­ing case.

The set­tle­ment is against con­tro­ver­sial Chi­nese busi­ness­man Wil­liam Yan, his wife Wei You and two as­so­ci­ates. Po­lice said pro­ceed­ings against the cou­ple and as­so­ci­ates Yingzi Zeng and Shui Yong Huang had been set­tled fol­low­ing dis­cus­sions be­tween the par­ties and ap­proval by the High Court. Yan, 45, ar­rived in New Zealand in 2001 and court doc­u­ments filed against him in 2012 listed var­i­ous names and ages rang­ing from 39 to 42-years-old. He also goes by the names of Bill Liu, Yang Liu and Yong Ming Yan. In 2008 then As­so­ci­ate Immigration Min­is­ter Shane Jones granted Yan cit­i­zen­ship against for­mal ad­vice.

Due to al­le­ga­tions com­ing out of China, and his ten­dency to use mul­ti­ple names and birth dates, Yan was said to have failed a ‘char­ac­ter test’, a re­quire­ment of cit­i­zen­ship ap­pli­ca­tions. Cit­i­zen­ship was nonethe­less granted by Jones and an of­fi­cial investigation by the au­di­tor-gen­eral later found no ev­i­dence that Jones had acted im­prop­erly. In­ter­pol had placed Yan on a ‘red alert’ list and in 2015 one of his aliases, Yan Sun, ap­peared on China’s list of 100 fugi­tives. In 2012 he was ac­quit­ted of five immigration fraud of­fences fol­low­ing a judge-alone trial at the High Court at Auck­land. Pros­e­cu­tors claimed he had used five doc­u­ments dis­hon­estly to try and gain ac­cess to New Zealand.

Po­lice said the for­fei­ture an­nounced on Tues­day was the sin­gle largest in New Zealand and the first re­lat­ing to crimes al­leged to have oc­curred in China.

‘‘The ac­tiv­ity un­der­ly­ing the for­fei­ture or­ders is al­leged money laun­der­ing,’’ po­lice said.

Pro­ceed­ings started against Yan and You in Au­gust 2014. Re­strain­ing or­ders were ob­tained over var­i­ous items of prop­erty as­so­ci­ated with the cou­ple, in­clud­ing a pent­house apart­ment in cen­tral Auck­land, a num­ber of lux­ury ve­hi­cles, and sub­stan­tial share­hold­ings. Re­lated pro­ceed­ings had been started in De­cem­ber 2013 against Zeng and Huang. They were al­leged to have as­sisted in money laun­der­ing and var­i­ous prop­erty as­so­ci­ated with them was re­strained, in­clud­ing three Auck­land prop­er­ties, a Porsche and Maserati, and over $4.5 mil­lion bank funds. Once the set­tle­ment sum was paid, the re­strained prop­er­ties, ve­hi­cles, share­hold­ings and third party as­sets will be re­leased from the re­strain­ing or­ders, po­lice said.


Wil­liam Yan in 2012, with Dover Sa­muels, af­ter be­ing found not guilty on five immigration fraud charges.

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