Simon Bridges has 'no intention of keeping' $100,000 donation, seeks Electoral Commission's advice

Simon Bridges has "no intention of keeping" the $100,000 donation at the centre of a Serious Fraud Office (SFO) investigation into the National Party's donations.

Bridges said he feels "vindicated" that neither he nor his party is included in the SFO's formal charges laid this week against four individuals related to donations paid into a National Party electorate bank account.

"I feel a sense that, as I'd always said, myself and the National Party had nothing to do with any of this, and that's sort of where we see it," Bridges told Magic Talk on Friday.

Magic Talk host Sean Plunket told the Opposition leader the "issue remains" that the National Party received money that may have been illegally mishandled before it reached the party's accounts. 

Bridges responded: "It's safe to say that we don't have the intention of keeping the donation, in fact, we've been in communication and written to the Electoral Commission about that, for them to help us and give us advice on what to do with that donation."

The SFO launched an investigation in March 2019 into National Party donations after the police referred a complaint by former National MP Jami-Lee Ross who accused Bridges of fraud.

Ross said in October 2018 Bridges broke the law, alleging the Opposition leader had asked him to collect a $100,000 donation from wealthy Chinese businessman Zhang Yikun and not disclose it properly.

Ross said the donation arrived in eight amounts smaller than $15,000 - the threshold at which donations have to be declared by law - and that Bridges had stressed it should not be made public.

Ross released a recorded phone conversation between him and Bridges at the time, where he could be heard asking his then-leader what to do with the $100,000 donation.

Bridges told Magic Talk he had nothing to do with the donation except attend a fundraising dinner in May 2018 with Zhang Yikun, whom Bridges was photographed with.

"I do that, by the way, probably three times a week - that is what the leader of a big political party does," Bridges said. "That is the extent of my involvement - I knew nothing."

Newshub visited all eight donors on Thursday and most were unavailable or wouldn't speak, and that was also the case with Ross himself.

New Zealand media commentator Martyn 'Bomber' Bradbury said he thinks the "bigger story" was Ross' other revelation in 2018 that the Chinese businessman had suggested a candidate for the National Party's MP list.

Bridges could be heard saying in the recording, "two Chinese would be nice".

National currently has one Chinese MP, Jian Yang, who became embroiled in a scandal in 2017 after it was revealed he had taught students at a Chinese spy school.

Bridges defended his comments on Magic Talk, saying it's "not unusual" for members of various foreign communities in New Zealand to want representation in Parliament. 

He also pointed out that no financial incentive was discussed.

"Let's just sort of remember that as leader of a large party - Jacinda Ardern will be in the exact same category - I meet with all manner of New Zealanders and new immigrants all the time," Bridges said.

"They are constantly making the case that they're growing, that they're significant, what it means for them to be in New Zealand, and how they want greater representation."

Bridges also took a crack at the New Zealand media when Plunket suggested there's a "narrative that they're out to get you".

"I think there's a bit of truth in that," Bridges responded. 

"I don't want to stand here as a victim of the media or any such thing, but I think many in the media, they know the story they want, and the happy ending is Jacinda Ardern."