New Zealand gave Peter Thiel citizenship after he spent just 12 days there | The Guardian

Pretty scandalous on many accounts. Revocation on grounds of fraud or misrepresentation?

Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of Paypal, was granted New Zealandcitizenship despite spending only 12 days in the country, new documents have revealed.

The government ombudsmen has forced New Zealand authorities to release further details of Thiel’s highly unusual citizenship process because it was deemed in the public interest.

On Thursday, Nathan Guy – who oversaw Thiel’s citizenship application as minister of internal affairs in 2011 – said Theil had been “a great ambassador for New Zealand, a great salesperson”. “He is a fine individual, good character, he has invested a lot in New Zealand, he’s got great reach into the US and I am very comfortable with the decision that I made.”

The billionaire entrepreneur who is a close adviser to Donald Trump, was granted New Zealand citizenship in June 2011, after taking four brief trips to the country. He made it clear he had no immediate plans to settle in the country.

The usual route to citizenship requires applicants to be in New Zealand as a permanent resident for at least 1,350 days in the five years preceding an application.

The New Zealand government granted Thiel citizenship due to his “exceptional circumstances”, and because it was understood he would promote New Zealand on the global stage, and provide introductions and contacts for New Zealand start-ups in Silicon Valley.

Official information documents stated Thiel’s “exceptional circumstances” related to “his skills as an entrepreneur and his philanthropy”, which were deemed to be of potential benefit to New Zealanders and the country. The formal citizenship process took place in a private ceremony in Santa Monica in 2011.

In his application for citizenship Thiel stated that although he had no plans to reside in New Zealand, and did not work for a New Zealand business overseas, he intended to “represent the country on the international stage”. He also donated NZ$1m to the Christchurch earthquake relief fund, and bought prime land and luxury homes in New Zealand.

Despite this intention Thiel never appeared to mention his New Zealand citizenship in any public capacity – it was revealed by New Zealand media this year.

Labour’s immigration spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway told Radio NZ that Thiel was not promoting New Zealand internationally as he’d stated in his application, as no one knew about his citizenship or ties to New Zealand for six years.

“If Peter Thiel was an amazing ambassador and salesperson for New Zealand we would have found out he was a citizen of New Zealand because he would have told the world that he was a citizen of New Zealand,” Lees-Galloway said. “He kept it under wraps. He hasn’t gone around telling the world that he’s a citizen of New Zealand and that he’s proud of New Zealand.”

Source: New Zealand gave Peter Thiel citizenship after he spent just 12 days there | World news | The Guardian

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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