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Auditor-General to examine OIO information

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 30/06/2016 Edwin Mitson

The Auditor-General is to examine how the Overseas Investment Office collects and manages information following a request from parliament's finance and expenditure committee.

In her notes accompanying the plan, Controller and Auditor-General Lyn Provost the study would take precedence over work on monitoring tertiary education organisations, which has been deferred for a year.

It will examine how well the OIO conducts the approvals process, including the principles it applies to assessing applications and the advice it gives about those assessments.

It will also look at the consistency and quality of its decisions, and the monitoring once consent has been granted.

The office has come under heavy fire in recent months over the length of time it takes to make decisions and the quality of the information it provides.

In April it emerged that the Argentinian owners of a 1,317-hectare farm in Taranaki had passed the good character test when the sale was approved in 2014, despite having a conviction for polluting a river. Ministers said they had not received that information when they signed off the deal.

An independent review by Wellington QC Peter McKenzie into the good character test found there were no major flaws in the system, which Labour Party described as a "whitewash".

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