New Zealand police have made money laundering allegations against a Chinese businessman who is no stranger to the VIP lounges of local casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group. On Thursday, the Auckland Metropolis Tower penthouse of William Yan (pictured on the left) – aka Bill Liu, Yang Lu and/or Yong Ming Yan – was raided and millions of dollars in assets seized as part of an ongoing Criminal Proceeds Recovery (CPR) investigation.
While no charges have been laid, the CPR law requires targeted individuals to demonstrate how they paid for an asset listed under their name. Criminal charges aren’t required to enforce the CPR’s edicts. Yan’s attorney Simon Lance said his client denies “any alleged money laundering or other illegal activity.”
Auckland police issued a statement saying the investigation was “focused on the laundering of large amounts of money that police believe has been accumulated through illegal activity.” The activity in question involves a methamphetamine ring New Zealand police broke up in December as part of Operation Ghost. Four of the nearly 40 suspects targeted in this operation were regular visitors to the VIP gaming room at SkyCity’s Auckland casino. The Weekend Herald reported that Yan had wagered “millions of dollars” at SkyCity.
The investigation into Yan’s assets stems from his relationship with Yingzi Zeng, who had $9m in assets frozen following the December raids. Like Yan, Zeng has yet to face criminal charges. In 2009, Yan faced charges of falsifying documents that allowed him to enter the country in 2001, but he was found not guilty after it was determined that the documents in question had been filled out by others acting on his behalf. In 2012, a judge described Yan’s case as “highly suspicious” but ultimately ruled that Yan’s complicity in the falsification couldn’t be proven.