A Chinese-Australian billionaire, one of Australia’s biggest political donors, has been named in Parliament as having allegedly funded the bribery of a late United Nations president.
The donor, revealed in federal parliament as Dr Chau Chak Wing, was also accused of being closely associated with the lobbying arm of the Chinese Communist Party.
Liberal MP Andrew Hastie said the man was known by the pseudonym CC-3 in FBI documents and had donated more than $4 million to both major political parties, as well as $45 million to Australian universities.
“It is now my duty to inform the house and the Australian people – that CC-3 is Dr Chau Chak Wing,” Mr Hastie said under parliamentary privilege.
“The same man who co-conspired to bribe the United Nations general assembly president John Ashe, the same man with extensive contacts in the Chinese Communist Party.”
Mr Hastie’s use of parliamentary privilege to name the man was defended by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Wednesday.
Mr Turnbull says it was Mr Hastie’s right to make speeches in parliament without fear of being sued for defamation.
“The allegations are not new, they’ve been made elsewhere and they are the subject of legal proceedings,” Mr Turnbull told reporters on Wednesday.
“I’m not going to comment on a member of parliament using their right … it’s a right that was hard won, it’s a fundamental part of our parliamentary democracy.
“The first I learned of Mr Hastie’s remarks was after he had given them … I had no forewarning of it.”
Mr Hastie, who chairs the joint parliamentary committee on intelligence and security, led a delegation to the US last month and was able to confirm the man’s identity.
On Tuesday night, he tabled US State Department cables about Dr Chau’s alleged links to the Communist Party.
Mr Hastie said Dr Chau had “close contact with the United Front, the influence arm of the Chinese Communist Party in 2007”.
The FBI claimed Chinese-Australian woman Sheri Yan used $US200,000 ($263,400) of CC-3’s money to bribe Mr Ashe in November 2013.
Ms Yan pleaded guilty to the bribery charge and is serving a 20-month sentence.
Mr Hastie told Parliament it was in the “national interest” to use Parliament to name Dr Chau as CC-3 in light of defamation actions brought by Dr Chau against the ABC and Fairfax.
News Corp was also forced to apologise to Dr Chau after suggesting he was under investigation in the US over the bribery allegations – something Mr Hastie confirmed was not the case.
Mr Hastie alleged the defamation actions were a deliberate attempt to silence the media and had a “chilling effect” on a free press.
He maintained it was in the national interest to name Dr Chau.
Mr Hastie also used his speech to accuse China of seeking to influence western democracies.
“In Australia, it is clear that the Chinese Communist Party is working to covertly interfere with our media, our universities and also influence our political processes and public debates.”