Former Cabinet minister Dover Samuels believes officials did a ''hatchet job'' on a Chinese millionaire on trial for fraud.
High-ranking officials were stunned when Yong Ming Yan, also known as Bill Liu, was granted citizenship in 2008 despite being red flagged by Interpol.
Yan boasted to immigration officials that he had MP friends who would ensure he got citizenship, the High Court at Auckland heard yesterday.
Samuels wrote several letters of support for Yan during his immigration process but said he was not involved in the final decision and ''nor should I be''.
That decision was made by then Cabinet minister Shane Jones after Rick Barker declared a conflict of interest.
Internal Affairs case officer Olele Johannes Gambo yesterday told the High Court in Auckland that when Yan was told he could not have citizenship he said friends in Parliament would ensure he got it.
''He said he had a lot of support from members of Parliament ... he was going to take them to China.''
Jones last night said he ''most certainly had not'' been to China with Yan.
Samuels also denies travelling to China with him, but admits they were friends.
''I was a friend of his and his family before his children were born.''
Samuels went to see him when he was arrested at Auckland Airport and stopped ''from going to do some shopping, from going to Korea''.
''I don't believe he's committed any offences in New Zealand since he's been here.''
There were personalities involved and officials were put out when Jones went against their recommendation to deny Yan citizenship, Samuels said.
''What I'm suspecting is this, that the minister's decision to allow Mr Liu's citizenship got up the nose of the officials that had a personal vindictive attitude towards Mr Liu. I think they had their own agenda.
''Somehow they've come in through the backdoor and [are] using the judicial and the High Court process to actually revisit the same issues that the minister would have considered.''
Police declined to say whether they were investigating the claims that Yan received special favours.
"We are aware of the comments made in court but it would not be appropriate to make further comment while a trial is underway," a spokesman said.
Samuels said he had not been contacted by police.
Yan's age and true identity are unknown.
Court files refer to him as William Yan, Bill Liu and Yang Liu, list several birth dates and say he arrived from China in 2001.
He is appearing before Justice Timothy Brewer on five charges that he fraudulently used documents to falsely claim New Zealand citizenship.