One of New Zealand’s most controversial citizens has been convicted of money laundering.
William Yan – also known as Bill Liu, Yang Liu and Yong Ming Yan – pleaded guilty to the serious criminal charge in March. Name suppression was lifted at the sentencing hearing in the Auckland District Court this morning.
The 45-year-old millionaire businessman will spend the next five months serving home detention in a luxury apartment in downtown Auckland.
To allow Yan to work, Judge Rob Ronayne granted him permission to leave the apartment for meetings during weekdays, for up to five hours a day, but only with the approval of his probation officer.
The judge flatly denied a request for Yan to use the gymnasium in the Auckland hotel complex where he lives.
The admission of guilt is a shock twist in a saga dating to 2001, when Yan came to New Zealand with two Chinese passports.
Since then, he has steadfastly denied any wrongdoing in China, where he was accused of a multimillion-dollar fraud.
Those allegations were politically motivated, Yan maintained.
Yet the sparsely worded summary of facts, to which Yan pleaded guilty, reveals he admitted receiving “significant sums of money” in the 24 months leading to August 2014.
“Those funds were the proceeds of serious offending, namely, a series of frauds,” according to the summary, released to the Herald.
“Mr Yan believed those funds were the proceeds of that serious offending.
“Mr Yan subsequently concealed the funds in various ways, including conducting transactions through SkyCity Casino and third-party banking facilities in order to conceal the nature and/or source of the funds.”
On behalf of Yan, Paul Wicks, QC, said his client was not involved in the fraud in the summary of facts and did not personally gain from it.
Yan insisted the “significant” amount of money laundered did not exceed $30,000 – although this was not in the agreed summary of facts – said Wicks.
Mark Harborow, on behalf of the police, said it was irrelevant if Yan committed the underlying fraud or not, as he had pleaded guilty to laundering the proceeds of a crime.
The police did not seek reparation for the money laundering because of the $42.85 million Yan forfeited in August as a final settlement in a civil case brought by police.
“Although the civil and criminal proceedings are discrete, given the settlement in the civil proceeding, no order for reparation is sought in this proceeding,” the caption summary says.
Chinese and New Zealand police worked together closely on the investigation and the Herald can now reveal how the money will be split: China will get about $27m and New Zealand will keep the balance of around $15m.
“This is a good, fair outcome for both countries,” said Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Hamilton, explaining New Zealand’s share was calculated from the cost of the police work and court hearings.
Now suppression has been lifted, the Herald can report Yan was charged with money laundering in the Auckland District Court last November – two months after forfeiting the $42.85m.
Photo: New Zealand Herald