Businessman William Yan sentenced for money laundering

William Yan aka Bill Liu (File)
William Yan aka Bill Liu (File)

A controversial Chinese businessman who was the target of New Zealand's biggest single forfeiture of money has been sentenced for money laundering.

William Yan, also known as Bill Liu, had earlier pleaded guilty to one representative charge of money laundering in March.

At the Auckland District Court on Wednesday he was sentenced to five months' home detention.

In August last year, police seized a record-breaking $42.85m from Yan and two associates which was the full and final settlement on civil proceedings.

However, a criminal investigation was still underway.

The money being laundered came from a series of frauds in China between 1999 and 2001.

Police says the seized funds will be split between the Chinese and the New Zealand governments; the latter will keep $15m while China will get the remainder.

Detective Senior Sergeant Craig Hamilton of Waikato Asset Recovery Unit says the investigation was complex and took years to complete.

"Even when offending occurs overseas we will thoroughly investigate, and consider all the options available to us from both a criminal and civil perspective," he says.

Det Snr Sgt Hamilton says the case shows how effective the relationship is between New Zealand and other international law enforcement agencies.