Foreign Minister Winston Peters initially pushed hard for expatriate billionaire Owen Glenn to be made New Zealand honorary consul in Monaco, papers released today reveal.
Mr Glenn donated $100,000 to pay for the New Zealand First leader's legal fees in 2005.
Mr Peters long denied knowing about the gift until his lawyer told him about this year, but a select committee said the evidence showed Mr Peters did know about it and had breached Parliament's rules by failing to declare it.
Mr Glenn, who also made large donations to Labour, had openly lobbied for the position in Monaco.
In the past Mr Peters has been coy about how he had treated Mr Glenn's desire for the position but the papers, released to NZPA under the Official Information Act by the Foreign Affairs Ministry (Mfat), show he was initially keen.
A memo on April 19, 2007 from Mfat chief executive Simon Murdoch said Mr Peters "wants to appoint an honorary consul in Monaco. It is a distinguished expat of his choice."
A memo the next day said the name mentioned was Owen Glenn... "I have no further details except that he is a mega-rich NZer living in Monaco. Presumably someone can google him".
There then follows a succession of memos and briefing papers between officials which show that officials in France had great difficulty in making contact with Mr Glenn.
They also point out to each other that a previous candidate - Franco Repetto - who lived in Monaco, was well connected and enthusiastic about New Zealand had been rejected by the previous foreign minister Phil Goff.
This was because the position was of low benefit to New Zealand.
In the face of delays from officials Mr Peters asked for updates.
At one August 27 meeting, an official warned embassy staff in Paris that Mr Peters was "clearly annoyed that this issue had not made faster progress".
"I gather he will be seeing Mr Glenn in Sydney around Apec and may have wanted to say something to him then."
On August 30, 2007 one official said "just to let you know the minister had another go last night about the above, still a raw nerve there!"
On September 17, officials advised Mr Peters that they would be meeting with Mr Glenn.
In October, ambassador to France Sarah Dennis met Mr Glenn.
Following that, Mr Glenn's secretary emailed Mr Peters saying "Owen is now wondering the next step in regards to the appointment in Monaco".
The last paper released today is dated November 2, 2007.
The Mfat paper to Mr Peters said Mr Glenn and Mr Repetto would both make excellent candidates, though since Mr Glenn was only in the principality for three months a year his appointment should be "carefully considered".
The paper noted that there was only a marginal case for the position, and if there was an appointment it should be Mr Repetto.
There were no further memos or papers on the subject.
Mr Peters said after the donations row exploded that questions about the Monaco appointment were hypothetical as there was no such post.
Mr Peters denied received any money from Mr Glenn, but it later emerged the money was used to pay the legal fees of his lawyer Brian Henry for work on the electoral petition Mr Peters launched after the 2005 election.
Mr Henry told a select committee inquiry he was the one who had asked for the money, and only told Mr Peters about the donation on July 18 this year - the day Mr Peters' mother died - because it had become a contentious issue.
Mr Glenn provided telephone records that showed he talked to Mr Peters on December 14, 2005.
Mr Glenn said the donation was discussed, Mr Peter says it wasn't.
Minutes after the phone call ended Mr Peters called Mr Henry and then shortly afterwards Mr Henry emailed bank account details to Mr Glenn, so that payment could be made.
Despite that evidence, Mr Henry and Mr Peters said they never discussed the donation.
Since the row broke out Mr Peters has said Mr Glenn just wanted the position so he could get a diplomatic passport.
When Mr Peters was questioned by One News about the documents he said the issue was dead because the ministry recommended against appointing an honorary consul.
"If I would not sign any cabinet papers because I believed the idea was dead, then it's dead," he said.
"Those emails suggest I inherited Owen Glenn's interest in the job - yes, that's the truth. It didn't start with me."
Mr Peters said the emails were old. "They're more stale than Colin Meads' football boots."
Prime Minister Helen Clark also said there was "no issue" because no appointment had been made.
She accepted that Mr Glenn may have seemed a good proposition to Mr Peters at the time.
"I'm sure that he genuinely believed that he was (a good proposition)...but for my part once I heard that there had been a donation, or Mr Glenn believed there had been one, I didn't think it was appropriate," she said.
National Party leader John Key said Mr Peters had previously argued he had not advocated appointing Mr Glenn, when in fact he had.