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Billionaire’s citizenship raises serious questions

The Government must urgently respond to questions about how American billionaire Peter Thiel acquired New Zealand citizenship says Labour’s Immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway.

“Questions have rightly been asked about how Mr Thiel has acquired New Zealand citizenship given that he does not appear to meet the criteria usually expected of applicants.

“People wishing to become citizens of New Zealand normally have to spend over 70 per cent of their time in New Zealand over a 5-year period before they can even apply.

“It seems incredibly unlikely that a person of Mr Thiel’s wealth and prominence would be able to reside unnoticed in New Zealand for that period of time.

“Has the Government chosen to allow Mr Thiel to jump the queue for citizenship? If so, an urgent explanation is required.

“Mr Thiel is a wealthy man who has chosen to invest in two New Zealand tech ventures. That is to be welcomed and applauded, but it is not enough reason to give him preferential treatment.

“There is no evidence of impropriety in this case, but New Zealanders pride ourselves on being an egalitarian nation where citizenship is not for sale, and that ideal must be upheld.

“There may well be an innocent explanation but the longer the Government stays silent the more it appears they have something to hide,” says Iain Lees-Galloway.

Iain Lees-Galloway has lodged the following written Parliamentary Questions to Internal Affairs Minister, Peter Dunne:

  1. What section of the Citizenship Act 1977 was used for the decision made to grant Peter Thiel citizenship?
  2. Was Peter Thiel’s application approved under section 9(1)(c) of the Citizenship Act 1977, if so, what were the exceptional circumstances of a humanitarian or other nature?
  3. What information did he consider as part of his decision to grant Peter Thiel citizenship?
  4. What date was Peter Thiel’s application for citizenship made on?
  5. What date was Peter Thiel’s application for citizenship approved on?
  6. Did he consult any other Ministers or MPs on Peter Thiel’s application for citizenship, if so, who, on what date, and what are the titles and dates of any documents relating to that consultation?
  7. Was Peter Thiel required to become a resident for tax purposes as a condition of his grant of citizenship?
  8. What is the number of citizenship grants that have been made in each of the last five financial years under section 9(1) of the Citizenship Act 1977, if any, broken down by whether it was under paragraph a, b, c, or d?