The senior Customs official who said there were "brownie points" on offer for intelligence officials passing information to the FBI was running one of the most intrusive and sensitive groups in the country at the time.
Greg Davis was operations manager for the Integrated Targeting Operations Centre when he emailed colleagues at Immigration NZ to tell them the FBI was after information on internet tycoon Kim Dotcom.
At the time no New Zealand agency had formally been engaged under legal assistance laws with the United States. Mr Dotcom's status at the time was the same as any other citizen's.
Mr Davis said "the FBI would be interested in anything we have on Kim Dotcom so any information we can proactively feed to them on him will buy you many brownie points".
Immigration NZ's intelligence staff were warned to get legal advice before releasing information.
Customs would not comment. But after days of refusing to even say what information could be shared, it last night said it could legally pass on "airline passenger and crew lists, travel movements of people, general history of people, financial transactions, mail interceptions, identification details and known or suspected involvement of persons in illicit activities".
Customs Minister Maurice Williamson refused to comment, saying it was an "operational" issue.
The Integrated Targeting Operations Centre prompted privacy fears when it opened in September 2011, just weeks before the email was sent.