National Party donors silent after Serious Fraud Office lays charges

Newshub has obtained details of the eight smaller donations that Jami-Lee Ross says were used to hide a $100,000 donation to the National Party. 

Newshub visited all eight donors and most were unavailable or wouldn't speak, and that was also the case with Ross himself, a former National MP, who's gone to ground.

There was no sign of Ross at his Botany electorate office on Thursday nor or his home, and he wasn't answering phone calls.

Zhang Yikun - the Chinese businessman Ross says donated $100,000 to the National Party - was also unavailable, with someone in the office registered to one of his businesses telling Newshub he is very busy and was not there.

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has charged four people over donations paid to the National Party - their identities have been kept secret - but leader Simon Bridges and National aren't among them.

"I've always said I had nothing to do with this so it's a good feeling," Bridges said on Thursday.

Ross released a secret recording of Bridges in 2018 claiming the National leader ordered the $100,000 be broken up to hide the donations because smaller donations don't have to be declared by law.

In the recorded conversation released by Ross, he could be heard saying: "They talked to about a $100,000 dollar donation."

Bridges could be heard, replying: "Yup."

Ross then said: "That is now in", to which Bridges responded: "Fantastic."

Ross alleged the donation was broken up into eight smaller sums.

"The way they've done it, it meets the requirements where it's under the particular disclosure level," he could be heard saying in the recording.

Newshub obtained details of those eight donations, the donors and where they lived. Each of them was paid a visit, but none of them would talk about it.

Two of the properties are the registered addresses for Zhang Yikun's businesses.

One of the people who answered the door to Newshub said, "I'm not able to say anything because of the SFO."

Four people will appear in court in February and that's just the first appearance. 

"I don't anticipate there will be any court case before the election," Bridges said.