26 Oct 2012

Illegally purchased Crafar farms changing hands

6:30 pm on 26 October 2012

Foreign investment firms that illegally purchased four of the Crafar family farms are selling up.

The properties were bought by UBNZ Funds, UBNZ Assets and Natural Dairy in February 2010, without approval from the Overseas Investment Office.

The OIO says later in July they sought approval to buy the remaining 16 Crafar farms, then sought retrospective approval for the earlier purchase.

Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson says one of the four properties changed hands this month, a second is about to be auctioned, tenders are closing on another and the fourth is about to be listed for sale.

Mr Williamson says the investors have simply given up and are voluntarily bailing out.

But New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says he believes the sales have been forced by the Hong Kong courts, which are seeking redress for shareholders.

Mr Peters says regardless of what happens there, a prosecution should also go ahead in New Zealand.