Investors bought farms without approval
Hong Kong investors slipped under the Government's radar to buy four dairy farms without approval.
New details about the dealings of failed businesswoman May Wang and business partner Jack Chen emerged in Parliament this afternoon after questions were raised by New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.
Wang, the front-woman for a failed bid for the Crafar farms, pleaded guilty to a charge under the Companies Act in May.
She has also faced charges in Hong Kong over an alleged $11.7million (HK$73 million) bribe.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters today asked acting Prime Minister Bill English how he could have confidence in Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson, "given his inaction over the unauthorised purchase of four farms by May Wang, the same May Wang who failed the good character test to buy the 16 other Crafar Farms".
English said he had confidence in Williamson overseeing the OIO "dealing with those matters".
Williamson was later granted leave of the House to explain the situation.
He said that during processing of an application by Wang's Natural Dairy to acquire the Crafar Farms, it emerged that a consortium including Wang, Chen and others had already bought four dairy farms without seeking any approval from either the Overseas Investment Office or any ministers.
"As we began the process to make them divest themselves of those farms, we were notified by the courts in Hong Kong that charges of corruption had been laid against them and a stay had been put on those farms as they were assets involved in the court case," Williamson said.
The case in Hong Kong had been concluded and the stay on the farms removed so the OIO had started its own action to "make those farms be down-sold", he said.
"No approval was ever sought from anybody, nor was any approval given by a minister or the Overseas Investment Office," Williamson said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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