The Chinese tycoon in New Zealand who forfeited $30 million for money laundering – China politics and current affairs news from May 10, 2017


A summary of today’s top news in Chinese politics and current affairs. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "Strong in furniture, very weak in outdoor gear."

China's Vice-Premier Li Keqiang attends a session at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos January 28, 2010. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

“They went to the basement and Yan offered Lentino to take his pick — a Porsche, a Bentley or the Rolls-Royce.” That is how William Yan (闫永明 Yan Yongming), aka Bill Liu, a flashy multimillionaire residing in New Zealand despite Beijing’s long-standing accusation that he is an “economic fugitive,” liked to seal his business deals. But not all business has been that pleasant for Yan recently: In August last year, he agreed to pay US$30 million (NZ$43 million) to settle a money-laundering case in New Zealand and is now serving a five-month home detention sentence.

The New Zealand Herald reports on Yan’s decade-long story in New Zealand, ending with his conviction on money laundering and sentencing to home detention on May 10: Yan had previously been accused of falsifying his identity, a point that became especially salient after 2008, when the government controversially granted him New Zealand citizenship. In trials in 2012 for identity falsification and 2014 for money laundering, Yan was revealed to have obscured both his identity and the ownership of his assets through a web of third-party registrations and documents filled out on his behalf, making it difficult to tie any crimes back to Yan. When investigators did find more solid evidence of fraud in 2014, it sparked a drawn-out negotiation between New Zealand police, Yan, and the Chinese government.

The August 2016 settlement came with an agreement by Yan to return to China to face trial for fraud charges — Yan went in November 2016, came back in January 2017 with no publicized outcome, and stood trial this week, leading to his final sentencing. On May 10, Xinhua finally reported (in Chinese) an outcome of the trial: The majority of Yan’s $30 million, the equivalent of 130 million yuan ($18.8 million), will be remitted directly from his frozen assets in New Zealand to China.