- Date published:
3:20 pm, February 19th, 2020 - 107 comments
Categories: bill english, Dirty Politics, same old national, Simon Bridges - Tags: bill english, dirty politics, jami-lee ross, national party
Name suppression has been lifted for the four people charged by the Serious Fraud Office over two dodgy donations to the National Party.
Three are businessmen: Yikun Zhang, 48, Shijia (Colin) Zheng, 34, and Hengjia (Joe) Zheng, 34. The fourth is National Party bag man Jami-Lee Ross.
All four deny any wrongdoing, though the SFO case is that two donations of $100,000 in 2017 and $100,050 in 2018 were made “in circumstances where the identity of the donor was not disclosed in the National Party’s Annual Return of Party Donations”.
“The defendants adopted a fraudulent device, trick, or stratagem whereby the 2018 donation was split into sums of money less than $15,000, and transferred into the bank accounts of eight people, before being paid to, and retained by, the National Party,” the SFO documents read.
The same allegation is made by the SFO about the 2017 cash, which has only just come to light in recent days. The National Party was led by Bill English at the time and current leader Simon Bridges says he knew nothing about that donation.
Jami-Lee Ross said this afternoon that the charges are “outrageous”, while he has become a victim of ‘dirty politics’.
Ross told the Herald: “I always wanted to make it very clear that as the whistleblower on this deception, it was outrageous that I was then charged and that others were seeking to implicate me, making me their expendable scape goat.”
Ross said his decision to go to the police – sparking the SFO investigation and subsequent charges against him – was “not just because I had been the victim of broken promises made to me by Mr Bridges”.
Ross says that, instead, there was an issue which needed to be “openly and honestly addressed for the benefit of the country”.
“I was the whistle blower, and as a result, ever since I have been attacked by the Party and its supporters for bringing this matter to the attention of the nation.
“Some seek to make me out as the bad guy. While that may be convenient spin for the party, I will not be the National Party’s fall guy,” Ross said.
Jami-Lee Ross has claimed new National Party leader Simon Bridges had asked him to collect a $100,000 donation from philanthropist and businessman Yikun Zhang, which was then split into smaller amounts to hide it.