Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Top lawyer for Overseas Investment Office process review

Land Information New Zealand chief executive Peter Mersi announced today that Wellington-based barrister Terence Stapleton QC will review the Overseas Investment Office's process.
Land Information New Zealand chief executive Peter Mersi announced today that Wellington-based barrister Terence Stapleton QC will review the Overseas Investment Office's process.

A top lawyer has been appointed to head a review of the Overseas Investment Office's process for assessing good character.

The OIO has been in the spotlight in the past week after it was revealed that it approved the 2014 sale of a large farm in Taranaki to Argentine investors who had previously been found criminally responsible for toxic discharges into a river in Buenos Aires.

The case has led to a review of the consent itself, and a review of the way the office provides information to ministers about potential breaches of "good character" requirements.

Land Information New Zealand chief executive Peter Mersi announced today that Wellington-based barrister Terence Stapleton QC will review the Overseas Investment Office's process for assessing good character.

Mr Mersi said it had become apparent that information relevant to the good character test and held by the OIO was not made available to the relevant ministers.

"To test whether the process in place for assessing good character is sufficiently robust, I have asked for an independent review of it.

"I am pleased that Mr Stapleton QC has agreed to undertake the review. He is a high calibre and respected member of the legal fraternity, and we can expect a rigorous investigation."

Mr Stapleton QC will provide his report and recommendations to Mr Mersi by June 15.

- NZ Herald

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