10 February 2020

Welcome to 2020! 2020 has arrived and with that comes a new set of opportunities for the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) in our role as administrator and regulator of overseas investment laws.

Kia ora koutou,

This year the OIO will be focussing on getting several key changes across the line, including supporting Treasury with further updates to the Overseas Investment Act. We’ll also be looking at our fees and charges, as part of wider work taking place across Land Information New Zealand.

The special forestry test provides a more straightforward process for certain types of overseas investment in New Zealand’s forestry industry. As part of the test’s introduction in 2018, a mandatory review of the changes was included. Legislation states the review will look at the ‘operation’ and ‘effectiveness’ of the changes - but the formal scope of the review is not yet confirmed. The review must start before October 2020 and the OIO will work with Treasury and MPI/Te Uru Rakau on it.

Open and transparent
OIO continually strives to be more open and transparent in the work we do. I’d love to hear from you if you have any ideas on how we can be better at this. We will start to proactively release more information of high public interest, like assessment reports - this follows recommendations from the Ombudsman and is part of a wider drive across government to improve the availability of official information. Keep an eye on our website for updates as we hope to proactively release the first assessment report within 2020’s first quarter.

General election
As announced by the Prime Minister on 28 January 2020, the 2020 general election will be held on Saturday 19 September 2020, with the pre-election period commencing on 19 June 2020. We will discuss plans for the pre-election period with our decision-making Ministers and will be able to provide you with more information in the next Perioiodical.

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Ngā mihi nui,
Vanessa Horne
Group Manager, Overseas Investment Office
Land Information New Zealand

This issue covers: 

Sticking to timeframes

Tell the OIO if a director changes

Please remember that when the OIO is processing an application - and there is a change in directors of the relevant overseas person - it is the applicant (or their representatives’) responsibility to update the OIO. You will need to do this as soon as you are aware of a change. If you leave it to the end of the assessment process, the investor test will need to be re-done and your application will be delayed.

Include all information with your application

To ensure your application is processed efficiently, please include all the information required and ensure that passports are scanned in high resolution (they need to be scanned in colour and be over 300 dpi).

The OIO completes a thorough quality assurance process when applications are received - if material information or appendices are missing, the OIO will not be able to accept an application for assessment.

Common examples of items missing:  

  • CVs not provided
  • inadequate counterfactual submissions
  • insufficient ownership and control information
  • incomplete information on special land.

Reminder to provide statutory declarations promptly

Statutory declarations need to be provided within the requested timeframe. Applications without a statutory declaration can’t be progressed.

In addition, if the OIO doesn’t receive the statutory declaration within a reasonable time, it may also result in your application being lapsed.

The OIO recently launched an updated system for progressing applications. For some applications this means the OIO will now ask for draft and executed statutory declarations earlier in the process. We sometimes ask for your comments on proposed consent conditions, or for minor additional information at the same time as requesting statutory declarations. These processes run in parallel - we don’t need condition comments before the statutory declarations. If you have your statutory declarations ready, don’t delay – send them to us as soon as you can.

The OIO accepts scanned copies of executed statutory declarations - we only need originals in a small number of cases.

Updates to web pages

Special land pages

For some OIO applications, applicants and vendors are required to offer special land (certain foreshore or seabed, riverbed or lakebed) to the Crown.

To ensure the OIO’s information on this is as helpful and accessible as possible, we are updating the relevant web content in February 2020. Watch this space…

Templates for sensitive land certificates

It is important the OIO receives enough information for us to identify any riverbeds, lakebeds, foreshore or seabed on the land. Following feedback, we are currently updating our sensitive land certificate templates to clarify the information we need to do this. The relevant OIO webpages will be updated in February 2020.

Enforcement update: Property developers ordered to pay $123,000 for not getting OIO consent

The past and present owners of a Birkenhead property have been ordered to pay $123,000 for failing to get consent from the OIO. The Auckland High Court has ordered FFG Investments Limited and Grand Sky Limited to pay the penalty, and $10,000 in costs, following an investigation by the OIO.

FFG will pay a penalty of $82,500 and Grand Sky will pay $40,500.

FFG and Grand Sky have the same three shareholders. The companies both acquired an interest in the property without first getting consent from the OIO – Grand Sky was no longer an overseas person by the time it acquired legal title to the land and its penalty was for obtaining an equitable interest only in the property.

Read more at Court orders property developers to pay $123,000 for failing to get OIO consent

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