Senator Sam Dastyari under fire after Chinese donor foots travel allowance bill overspend

Liberal senator Cory Bernardi has demanded high-profile Labor senator Sam Dastyari explain why a company with links to the Chinese Government repaid a debt on his behalf.

Liberal senator Cory Bernardi has demanded high-profile Labor senator Sam Dastyari explain why a company with links to the Chinese Government repaid a debt on his behalf.
Key points:

Sydney-based Top Education Institute paid bill of around $1,600

Dastyari says payment was declared, but he will donate the cash to charity

Bernardi says education company boss has “very close” links to Chinese Government

Government documents have revealed the Sydney-based Top Education Institute reimbursed the Commonwealth after Senator Dastyari blew his Parliamentary travel budget.
An October 2015 update to the senator’s interests register said: “Support for settlement of electorate staff travel budget overspend paid by Top Education Institute.”
Top Education Institute’s chief executive is Minshen Zhu — a man with Chinese Government connections.
Senator Bernardi told 7.30 Senator Dastyari must provide details about the payment.
Dr Minshen Zhu

PHOTO Top Education Institute principal, Dr Minshen Zhu

“A senator who owes a debt to the Commonwealth for mismanaging his electorate budget is now being bailed out by a company that is closely linked to the Chinese Government,” Senator Bernardi said.
“The director of it has very close links to the Chinese Government. That is cause for a Senate inquiry.
“Senator Dastyari needs to front the Senate tomorrow [and] explain himself because this has all the hallmarks of a dodgy deal that really smells and muddies up the waters of the body politic in this country.”
Senator Dastyari said the debt was about $1,600.
He declined interview requests but in a statement said the Chinese payment was appropriately disclosed on his pecuniary interests register.
The New South Wales Labor senator said he was donating an equivalent amount to charity.
“While fully disclosed, understand concern, so I’m donating the amount to charity,” he tweeted.
The Top Education Institute is said to be recommended by the Chinese Government to those looking to study overseas.
Dr Zhu reportedly features in pictures with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and former Chinese education minister Yuan Guiren.
Chinese-linked organisations are major political donors

Chinese-linked organisations have previously bankrolled travel, catering and legal bills for the NSW senator, according to his register of interests.
A November 2014 disclosure showed the Yuhu Group — a subsidiary of a state-linked operation based in China — helped settle a legal matter.
In the same year, Senator Dastyari revealed the Australia China Relations Institute paid to cater an afternoon tea for the senator.
Flights, accommodation and hospitality for a 15-day trip to China in 2014 were funded by the Australian Fellowship of China Guangdong Associations Incorporated.
And a nine-day trip in January this year was supported by the Australian Guangdong Chamber of Commerce Incorporated.
An ABC investigation this month revealed businesses with Chinese connections gave Australia’s major parties more than $5.5 million between 2013 and 2015, making them easily the largest source of foreign-linked donations.
The probe of public declarations and company information showed some have strong ties with state organisations in China.
Australian defence and intelligence agencies are increasingly uneasy about the level of Chinese Government influence.

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