Adam Bennett

Adam is a political reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Crafar farms buyer faces court action

New Zealand businesswoman May Wang was charged with corruption in Hong Kong late last year. Photo / Greg Bowker
New Zealand businesswoman May Wang was charged with corruption in Hong Kong late last year. Photo / Greg Bowker

The Overseas Investment Office has launched court action to force May Wang's company UBNZ to sell four Crafar dairy farms it bought without permission two years ago.

After being questioned on the matter in Parliament this afternoon by NZ First Leader Winston Peters, Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson made a personal statement to the House.

He said initial Overseas Investment Office (OIO) efforts to force UBNZ to divest the farms were halted when it was notified by courts in Hong Kong that charges of corruption had been laid against Ms Wang and her business partner Jack Chen "and a stay had been put on those farms as they were assets involved in that court case".

However, that case had now finished and the stay removed.

"The Overseas Investment Office has decided to bring civil proceedings under section 47 of the Act to recover or to make those farms be down sold',' Mr Williamson said.

Ms Wang was charged with corruption in Hong Kong late last year over business dealings said to have happened in New Zealand while she was trying to buy 16 further Crafar dairy farms.

UBNZ was to have onsold the farms to Mr Chens' Natural Dairy NZ but that company's OIO application was turned down because Ms Wang failed the Overseas Investment Act's good character test.

However, UBNZ had already gone ahead and bought four Crafar farms in early 2010 before it applied for OIO consent.

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