28 Jun 2017

NZ officials should release info on US billionaire 'without delay'

2:37 pm on 28 June 2017

The Internal Affairs Minister wants his department to release secret information about the US billionaire Peter Thiel as soon as possible.

The Department of Internal Affairs has been told it is wrong to keep information about Mr Thiel's successful citizenship application hidden.

PayPal founder-turned-venture-capitalist Peter Thiel.

PayPal founder turned venture capitalist Peter Thiel Photo: AFP

The controversial entrepreneur had visited New Zealand just four times - and did not intend to live here in the future - when he was granted citizenship by the then Internal Affairs Minister Minister Nathan Guy in 2011.

Normally a permanent resident has to spend more than 70 percent of their time in New Zealand over five years before they can apply for citizenship.

The department had refused to say how many days Mr Thiel had spent in the country when he was granted citizenship.

Now the Ombudsman has told RNZ the public interest in the matter outweighed Mr Thiel's right to privacy and that Internal Affairs should not be keeping the information secret.

The Ombudsman has told Internal Affairs to release it.

Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dunne said he agreed with the decision.

"I wasn't involved in the original decision because I wasn't the Minister, but I think the ombudsman has reached the right decision. I'm perfectly comfortable with it and I think it should be released, at their earliest convenience. I don't think they should delay."

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