February 11, 2016

Overseas Investment – Changes coming

The Prime Minister gave his Annual Statement to Parliament this week outlining the Government’s priorities for 2016. These include a review of the Overseas Investment Office which started last year. It is now apparent that the review will result in increased fees for overseas investment applications rather than any change to the requirements for overseas investors wanting to buy sensitive land in New Zealand.

The Overseas Investment Office is funded by application fees, so an increase in fees means that the Office can afford to hire more staff, which will improve its responsiveness when processing applications and to increase its enforcement capability.

Chen Palmer Partner Nick Russell said that resource issues had limited the Office’s ability to do its job.

“In the past, enforcement of the Overseas Investment Act has been sporadic and generally light-handed. With a larger, permanent enforcement capability at the OIO, enforcement will become more rigorous and could result in prosecutions, which while always technically possible under the Act have so far been rarely used in practice.”

Chen Palmer partner James Dunne welcomed the prospect of a better-resourced Overseas Investment Office.

“It isn’t fair on overseas investors who seek to comply with New Zealand’s overseas investment regulations that they can face long delays because of resourcing issues at the Overseas Investment Office”, said Dunne.

“But nor is it fair that those who choose to deliberately flout New Zealand’s rules can get away unpunished. A better resourced Overseas Investment Office is good news for everyone”.

Chen Palmer specialises in advising clients on all aspects of the Overseas Investment Act including applications and compliance with conditions.

For comment or advice on Overseas Investment Act contact: Nick Russell – nicholas.russell@chenpalmer.com

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