Chau Chak Wing hits back after Labor senator suggested he was ‘puppeteer’ in foiled election plot


The billionaire and political donor named in a parliamentary hearing as the ‘puppeteer’ implicated in a foreign interference plot has hit back, calling the allegation ‘baseless’.

Labor Senator Kimberley Kitching told Australian spy agency boss Mike Burgess on Monday night that the wealthy individual involved in the foiled plot to rig the upcoming election was Chau Chak Wing.

“I am reliably informed that the puppeteer mentioned in your case study in your annual threat assessment speech last week is Chau Chak Wing,” said Senator Kitching, using parliamentary privilege.

“I believe it’s Chau Chak Wing.

“Are you able to confirm that it is Chau Chak Wing?”

Mr Burgess, chief executive of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), declined to answer.

“Senator, as I have said before, I will not comment on speculation about who is and who is not targets in general or in particular,” he said.

“I think it’s unfair for you to ask me that question in public.”

On Tuesday afternoon, Dr Chau released a furious statement that called Senator Kitching’s claim “baseless”.

“I am shocked and disappointed by the baseless and reckless assertion made by Senator Kimberley Kitching during an Estimates hearing on Monday,” he said.

“It is always regrettable that elected representatives use the shield of parliamentary privilege as a platform to defame and attack Australian citizens without producing any evidence.

“I am a businessman and a philanthropist. I have never been involved or interested in interfering with the democratic electoral process in Australia.

Dr Chau, who was awarded a large sum last year in a libel case involving similar allegations, urged Senator Kitching to repeat his claim without parliamentary privilege.

“I urge Senator Kitching to show courage and integrity by repeating her claim and revealing the sources she says she has relied on, outside of parliament,” he said.

Mr Burgess first revealed spies plotted to rig an election during his annual threat assessment speech last week.

He said it was a wealthy individual he dubbed the “puppeteer” and that the network was seeking candidates for positions of power before it was shut down.

“This case involved a wealthy individual who had direct and deep ties to a foreign government and its intelligence agencies,” he said.

Camera iconSenator Kimberley Kitching said she was “reliably informed”. NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

“I’ll call this person ‘the puppeteer,’ although it’s important to remember that while the puppeteer was pulling the strings, the foreign government was calling the shots.”

It was later reported that Mr Burgess was talking about Chinese spies involved trying to fund the campaigns of Labor candidates in NSW in the upcoming federal election.

Dr Chau is a Chinese-Australian philanthropist and political donor who last year was awarded $590,000 in a libel case against ABC and Nine for a 2017 episode of Four Corners.

The programme, titled “Power and Influence”, investigated Chinese interference in Australian politics.

Dr Chau successfully argued in court that the program falsely portrayed him as a corrupt Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spy who paid a bribe to a UN official.

“In 2017, ABC and Nine reporter Nick McKenzie made a similar allegation in a Four Corners report,” Dr. Chau said in his statement on Tuesday.

“The Federal Court subsequently awarded me very substantial damages which I donated to charity.”


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