Part 2: Timeline of main events and decisions

Inquiry into decision by Hon Shane Jones to grant citizenship to Mr Yang Liu.

The events leading to Mr Jones' decision to authorise the grant of citizenship to Mr Liu took place over three years, and involved investigations by two different departments – Immigration, about Mr Liu's permanent residency permit, and the Department, about Mr Liu's citizenship application.

This brief timeline and overview covers the key events and decisions made in relation to Mr Liu between May 2005 and August 2008. These events and decisions are described in more detail in later Parts of this report.

April 2002 Grant of permanent residency in Australia

Mr Liu arrives in Australia in May 2001 and is granted permanent residency in April 2002.
June 2002 Grant of permanent residency in New Zealand
Mr Liu arrives in New Zealand in December 2001 and is granted permanent residency in June 2002.
May 2005 Application for New Zealand citizenship

Mr Liu applies for New Zealand citizenship.
2005 – 2007 Immigration investigation

Shortly after Mr Liu applies for New Zealand citizenship, Immigration New Zealand receives information that Mr Liu is wanted in China in connection with alleged economic crimes and passport fraud. Interpol issues a notice for Mr Liu's arrest.

Immigration New Zealand begins an investigation to determine whether Mr Liu's permanent residency should be revoked. It passes the information it has received about the Chinese allegations to the Department and, as a result, Mr Liu's citizenship application is effectively put on hold.
September 2007 Decision not to revoke permanent residency

In March 2006, a submission is forwarded to the Minister of Immigration, Hon David Cunliffe, recommending that he revoke Mr Liu's permanent residency permit.

The decision on Mr Liu's application is deferred twice for different reasons but is eventually referred back to Mr Cunliffe in March 2007. By this time, Mr Liu's Australian permanent residency has been cancelled.*

In September 2007, Mr Cunliffe decides not to revoke Mr Liu's permanent residency permit at that time. However, he records on the decision papers that Mr Liu's file should continue to be assessed as a potential prosecution file, and that he does not discount the possibility of reconsidering the matter in the future.
October 2007 Re-activation of Mr Liu's citizenship application

After he is notified of Mr Cunliffe's decision not to revoke his permanent residency at that time, Mr Liu's lawyers write to the Department and to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr Barker, requesting that a decision now be made on his citizenship application.

In the following months, the Department's Investigations Unit investigates the application. There is regular correspondence between the Department and Mr Liu's lawyers about the status of his citizenship application. Mr Liu is told that, because of the Interpol notice, he is unable to satisfy the "good character" requirement in the Citizenship Act and that, if his application is to proceed to the Minister, officials would be obliged to recommend that it be declined. They suggest Mr Liu contact the Chinese authorities to try to resolve matters.

Mr Liu, through his lawyers, replies that it is not possible to resolve matters because the allegations are politically motivated. He says his life would be in danger if he returned to China and that the uncertainty surrounding his future is causing stress and hardship to him and his family. He says he wants his application put to the Minister urgently.
March 2008 Processing of citizenship application

Mr Liu's application is sent to the Citizenship Office in Manukau for formal processing, with instructions to give the application priority and then return the file to Wellington, where a submission to the Minister would be drafted.
May 2008 Drafting of submission to Minister

Toward the end of May 2008, the file is returned to Wellington and a submission is drafted to the Minister of Internal Affairs, Hon Rick Barker.
30 June 2008 Transfer of ministerial responsibility

When officials contact Mr Barker's office to arrange a time to deliver the submission, they are told the decision has been transferred to the Associate Minister of Immigration, Hon Shane Jones, because Mr Barker has a conflict of interest.
14 July 2008 Minister's first briefing

The submission and file are delivered to Mr Jones by the official who had investigated Mr Liu and who had helped draft the submission. He and Mr Jones discuss the file for about an hour. Mr Jones keeps the submission and file to consider them further.
28 July 2008 Minister's second briefing

On 24 July, Mr Jones' office receives a request from John Billington QC, asking for a copy of the submission and for the opportunity to make representations on Mr Liu's behalf.

On 28 July, Mr Jones requests a briefing from officials on how to respond to this request. The briefing is attended by the investigator who had briefed him on 14 July and a solicitor from the Department's legal team, who was based at the time in the Citizenship Office. Mr Jones' Political Adviser is also present at this meeting.

Two days later, on 30 July, a redacted version of the submission is sent to Mr Billington.
5 August 2008 Minister requests legal advice

On 4 August 2008, a response is received from Mr Billington addressing various matters in the submission and making representations on Mr Liu's behalf.

The next day, Mr Jones requests legal advice from the Department by the end of that day because he was leaving for Australia and wanted to make a decision on the citizenship application before he went.

The advice is drafted and sent to Mr Jones mid-afternoon on 5 August.
6 August 2008 Minister approves Mr Liu's application for citizenship

Mr Jones tells his officials that he has approved Mr Liu's application for citizenship and asks them to notify Mr Billington. Mr Billington is notified by email at about 9:30 am.
7 August 2008 Request for urgent citizenship ceremony

Mr Liu's lawyers write to the Department saying that Mr Liu wants an urgent private citizenship ceremony and that Hon Dover Samuels, who had supported Mr Liu's application, would be contacting the Department about this.

After some discussion between Department officials, the General Manager of the Citizenship Office agrees that, if the Minister approves a private ceremony, then the General Manager would approve it being held urgently.

A letter is received in Mr Jones' office from Mr Samuels, asking for the Minister's consent to him officiating at the ceremony. Mr Jones writes the following note at the bottom of that letter:

Kia ora. OK. Deal with the officials.
11 August 2008 Mr Liu's citizenship ceremony takes place

A private ceremony takes place at Parliament.

* Mr Liu later successfully appealed the cancellation of his Australian residence permit.

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