6 Feb 2016

Fears immigration scheme used for laundering

5:12 pm on 6 February 2016

Police have investigated whether two American investors used an investor scheme meant to attract wealthy immigrants, to launder illegal funds.

New Zealand money

New Zealand money Photo: 123RF

The Labour Party is now calling for a review of the Investor Plus scheme.

Under the Investor Plus Scheme a foreigner can apply for residency if they can invest a minimum of $10 million in New Zealand, for at least three years.

The Financial Intelligence Unit report showed that in 2012, one investor put the required money into an account, with the other investor depositing $5m.

But the investors then withdrew their cash, which sparked concern from police that the foreign investors may have been laundering illicit funds through New Zealand.

Labour's immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway said it didn't look good.

"What seems clear is that neither of these individuals were particularly interested in being able to get into or stay in New Zealand. They seemed more interested in moving the money around," he said

The report said banks were unable to determine the purpose of the international transfers.

Immigration New Zealand said both American citizens were directors of the same overseas company.

Both withdrew their investment funds from New Zealand before Immigration New Zealand conducted their two year assessment check and as a result they do not hold New Zealand residence.

They are no longer in New Zealand.