The review by Wellington QC Peter McKenzie released today found no major flaws in the way the Overseas Investment Office assessed whether investors were of good character – a finding which led Labour MP David Cunliffe to dismiss it as a ‘whitewash’.
Instead it made minor recommendations about the way information about prospective investors was passed on to Government ministers tasked with signing off major investments.
The review was launched in April after it was revealed that the Argentinian owners of a large farm in Taranaki had previously been found guilty of releasing toxic pollution into a river in Buenos Aires.
Ministers said they had had not been informed of the prosecution of the company Ceol & Muir when approving its application to buy Onetai Station for $6 million in 2014.
Mr McKenzie’s review found that Overseas Investment Office (OIO) investigators had discovered one ‘relevant matter’ during internet searches of the company’s background.
However the discovery was not included in a final report to ministers.
Mr McKenzie’s review did not give any details about the ‘relevant matter’.