HOW many more reports do we need?
ISN’T it well and truly time to put a stop to Gladys Liu MP for Chisholm, Political Donations, lobbying and political interference from representatives with possible, and/or likely connections to the CCP … ?
-to the Developer/Real Estate Lobbyists for the Trojan Horse of the Real Estate Tours and granting of the ‘Permanent Resident Visa’
VIEW RELATED ARTICLE:
Gladys Liu linked to donor at centre of cash drop probe
By Nick McKenzie, Paul Sakkal and Grace Tobin
December 3, 2019
*Liberal MP Gladys Liu secured access to the federal government for a company endorsed by the Chinese Communist Party and later implicated in a major organised crime probe into $1 million in suspected drug money.
*Brighsun New Energy, the Australian subsidiary of the Chinese-controlled green energy group Brighsun, made a big donation to the Liberal Party to win access to federal politicians in a bid to revive the Australian auto industry by manufacturing electric buses in Victoria.
Its links to a money laundering probe are detailed in court documents uncovered by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.
They reveal Brighsun’s former Australian chief executive, Allen Saylav, collected $1 million in cash from a heroin trafficker – including $500,000 handed to him in a backpack at a Melbourne petrol station car park – in April and May 2016.
*Asked about the cash, Mr Saylav said he was following the orders of Brighsun’s Chinese co-director and key financial backer, Zhang Genjiang – a Crown casino high roller who was flying into Melbourne on a private jet to gamble at the time. Mr Saylav said he had no idea the man who gave him the cash in a backpack was a drug trafficker.
*The funds were part of $15 million that Mr Zhang had promised the Melbourne arm of Brighsun, after he partnered with Brighsun co-director Chinese businessman Kejun “Kevin” Huang, around 2014.
The drop-off of suspected dirty cash was intercepted by the Australian Federal Police and Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission as part of a probe into drug funds and money laundering. The money was seized by Australian police and used in evidence to prosecute a heroin trafficker. Federal police questioned Mr Saylav as part of their investigation but he was never charged.
*In the months before the police operation was launched, Brighsun donated $105,000 to the Liberal Party, donation records show. The corporate group engaged Ms Liu in late 2015 to secure political backing for its plans to introduce electric buses in Australia, according to Mr Saylav and the firm’s current local CEO, Charles Brent. *
*Brighsun New Energy’s former CEO said the firm donated $105,000 to the Liberal Party to gain access to and credibility with politicians.*
*Brighsun’s political activities and its ties to a $1 million cash drop raises questions about Ms Liu’s lobbying and fundraising activities.
According to ASIC records and a press release issued in 2015, Brighsun New Energy is “a joint venture between … Mr Kejun (Kevin) Huang and an investment group … headed by Mr Genjiang Zhang“.
The Chinese parent of Brighsun has been backed by the Chinese Communist Party and the website of Mr Zhang’s investment group states that it works with a “party committee of the Communist Party of China”.
Brighsun’s Chinese factory, established within a government-owned industrial park in Zhejiang, was launched at a local CCP event in 2015, where political leaders praised the company.
*It is not unusual for large Chinese companies to operate with CCP support and an internal party committee, although this creates a possibility that these firms are not purely commercial and may be influenced by Chinese government aims.
*Mr Saylav and Mr Brent both said Ms Liu was engaged by the firm in 2015 to win Australian government support.
However, in an interview with The Age and Herald, Ms Liu claimed she worked “pro-bono” because she was passionate about clean energy projects, and that her “communications director” title was created to lead politicians to believe she held a formal role.
“I recall I helped [Brighsun] talk to ministers because they failed to get any attention from the government. So I said, ‘Oh well, I do know a few people’, so I helped them to invite the minister to come to their launch – Greg Hunt,” she said. “[The communications director title] was to help the minister come. If I [didn’t have a title] at that company, then they wouldn’t talk to me.”
*The company’s current CEO, Charles Brent, said Ms Liu was “absolutely specifically” used by Brighsun to win government support.
“Gladys did a very good job … she was instrumental in helping us get access, like any good lobbyist would, and that was her job.”
“At the time she was doing fundraising for the Liberal Party within the Chinese community,” he said. “[The MPs] were all very, very supportive.”
The Chinese born Liberal MP has a disability and escaped an abusive marriage, but all talk has been about her memberships to Chinese government linked groups.
The $105,000 donation to the Liberal Party was made in early October, 2015. Weeks later, in late October, Mr Hunt, then the federal environment minister, appeared at a press conference with Ms Liu endorsing Brighsun.
Speakers at the event to promote Brighsun’s plans at Victoria’s Government House included state Labor minister Lily D’Ambrosio and Liberal shadow minister David Southwick, both of whom held energy and environment-related portfolios.
A spokesman for Mr Hunt said his attendance was not tied to the $105,000 and said Mr Hunt was unaware of Brighsun’s links to the CCP.
Mr Saylav said it was his impression the firm’s Chinese backers made the donation to gain access to and credibility with Australian politicians. He never questioned the source of Brighsun’s money and said Mr Zhang was its main financier, sending money to Australia in “dribs and drabs”. Mr Saylav said he collected the $1 million in cash on the orders of Mr Zhang.
Court records from organised crime cases suggest a probe by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission into the movement of drug funds across the region – which was under way by January 2016 – ultimately led to agents swooping on Mr Saylav’s car after he picked up a backpack stuffed with $500,000 cash.
The cash was handed over on May 3, 2016, by triad drug trafficker Lok Ping Tsui, who served 24 years in an Australian jail after being convicted over a major heroin importation into Australia in 1989. In
the days leading up to that seizure, police tracked another cash drop-off to Mr Saylav from Lok.
Mr Saylav, who was interviewed by police but never charged, said the $1 million police uncovered was part of $3 million that Mr Zhang had already provided Brighsun of his promised $15 million investment.
Mr Saylav said Mr Zhang had directed him to pick up the cash because he “had problems getting it out of China”.
Chinese capital flight laws bans more than $3000 leaving China in a single transaction and some Chinese nationals resort to using money launderers and crime figures to access cash or smuggle money into Australia.
Court transcripts reveal that Mr Saylav gave Lok a $5 note bearing a serial number ending in 460, a code that meant the cash could be handed over. Lok was then secretly filmed by authorities removing a small grey backpack stuffed with cash from the rear of his car and giving it to Mr Saylav. Lok later pleaded guilty to dealing with money reasonably suspected of being the proceeds of crime.
Asked where the $105,000 that Brighsun gave to the Liberal Party six months earlier had come from, Mr Saylav said: “I have no idea.” He was the company’s CEO at the time of the donation.
Brighsun’s current CEO Mr Brent said that Mr Huang and Mr Zhang poured “piles” of money into Brighsun before falling out with each other in early 2016. The pair remain directors of Brighsun’s parent company.
Ms Liu said she knew nothing about the police probe or the car park cash: “This is news to me. I have no idea,” she said. The Age and Herald are not suggesting she had any knowledge of any criminal behaviour. Ms Liu also said she had never heard of or met Brighsun’s co-director Mr Zhang, even though he was a major financial backer of the company and attended the company’s launch in Melbourne in 2015, which Ms Liu helped to organise.
A photo taken at the event and released by Brighsun shows Mr Saylav with Mr Huang and Mr Zhang, and news reports of the event say both men were its directors.
Ms Liu said Brighsun made the $105,000 donation to the Liberal Party in October 2015 after its director Mr Huang bid for an auction item, a promised meal with then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull. The meal never eventuated. Ms Liu denied advising Mr Huang specifically to bid on the item.
“I was on stage with the auctioneer, with Julie Bishop and with Michael Kroger, so I was there to help with the auctioning and he was sitting at the table and I was doing my job helping the Liberal Party … I was … encouraging people to bid – everyone in the room.”
Mr Huang, who bid for the dinner, also said he did not know the origins of the funds Mr Zhang contributed to Brighsun.
“I just asked for his [Zhang’s] money every month and he would send money. This is our relationship. I’m not clear with his fundraising or his relationship with the [Chinese] government,” Mr Huang said.
Mr Huang said he had bid for the dinner to “connect” with politicians. Mr Zhang could not be contacted for comment.
Mr Brent said the company had visions of becoming a large employer of manufacturing workers in Victoria who would produce world-leading electric buses.
In the lead-up to 2016, Mr Brent said the Victorian government was “very supportive” of Brighsun. The two parties were in negotiations for an electric bus trial but the split between Mr Huang and Mr Zhang derailed plans.
“The wheels fell off between Kevin [Huang] and Zhang, and that was very sad because suddenly the dream of creating the company in Australia was dead,” Mr Brent said.
Mr Zhang gave up on plans to manufacture in Australia, and instead moved operations to China, according to Mr Brent.
Nick McKenzie is an investigative reporter for The Age. He’s won seven Walkley awards and covers politics, business, foreign affairs and defence, human rights issues, the criminal justice system and social affairs.
Paul is a reporter for The Age.