Third arrest of student loan defaulter made following government crackdown
Another student loan defaulter has been arrested as part of a government crackdown, with warnings that Kiwis overseas can expect a knock on their door if they don't pay up.
News of the arrest - the third since the start of the year - comes with the launch of a new information-sharing agreement between New Zealand and Australia to identify student loan borrowers living across the Tasman.
Inland Revenue has been targeting student loan defaulters in an attempt to recoup some of the more than $1 billion which is owed.
Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce said the latest arrest was for a person based in Australia.
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"My understanding is the particular person has made arrangements to contribute to their student loan and has been let to leave the country."
Joyce said Inland Revenue had last week received the contact details of more than 10,000 student loan borrowers living in Australia, as part of an agreement with the Australian Tax Office.
"There probably will be more, we don't know of course how many are in Australia but that's a very good start, and I think it's probably a reasonable proportion of those who are in Australia."
Inland Revenue would now analyse the information to figure out who was in default and contact them about their loans, using debt collectors or court judgements if necessary.
'GET IN TOUCH WITH IRD'
Joyce said the deal with Australia was "a big step forward in terms of recovering that money", and defaulters living there could expect a knock on their doors in the coming months if they didn't start paying off their debts.
"I've counselled people in Australia that if they're worried about their student loans, they should get in touch with the IRD - that would be preferable than waiting for the IRD to get in touch with them."
Arrest warrants have been issued for six people since January, with three people arrested and appearing before a court.
Revenue Minister Michael Woodhouse said Inland Revenue's efforts had led to "some impressive gains", with the campaign aimed at problematic borrowers bringing in more than $300 million since it was launched.
ARREST 'NOT FAIR' - STUDENT LEADERS
Earlier this year, student leaders criticised the arrest of a Kiwi student loan defaulter at the border as "not fair".
The New Zealand Union of Student Associations said expat students have contacted them, worried about what could happen to them if they return home for funerals and family events.
Parents were also concerned that they might not see their children again.