Minister approved OIO consent despite death and investigations

Louise Upston must say if she knew Intueri was being prosecuted for the death of a student and under a funding investigation when she approved its overseas investment consent to buy another education provider, says Labour’s Land Information and Associate Education (Tertiary) spokesperson David Cunliffe.

“Intueri Education Group was granted an OIO consent to buy the NZ Institute of Sport in 2015. At the time the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) had been investigating funding irregularities at Intueri for over a year and Intueri was being prosecuted for the death of a student.

“The day after the consent was issued Intueri’s dive school was convicted for its role in the tragic death of a student in 2014. Four days later, the Serious Fraud Office launched an investigation into Intueri.

“It beggars belief a consent was granted in those circumstances, especially given Louise Upston was both Land Information and Associate Tertiary Education Minister.

“An otherwise insipid report into the OIO released on Friday stated that Ministers must take into account ‘offences or contraventions of the law’ when assessing the character of applicants.

“Yesterday, Intueri was ordered to repay $1.47 million of taxpayer funding after a Deloitte investigation found that student enrolments at its dive school ‘could not be validated’ and it had under-delivered by up to 40 per cent on its contracted teaching hours from 2010-2015.

“The OIO should be checking with other government agencies to see if there are any issues with an applicant. That either hasn’t happened with Intueri, or ministers have chosen to ignore these serious issues.

“Louise Upston needs to explain exactly what she knew about the probity issues at Intueri when she signed off on consent last year,” says David Cunliffe.