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Fresh claims around station sale

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 12/05/2016

The foreign buyers of a Taranaki station were involved in two pollution cases in Argentina before the Overseas Investment Office signed off the deal, parliament has been told.

It's been previously revealed that Rafael and Federico Grozovsky were convicted in 2012 because their tannery leaked chemicals into a river.

Despite that, the Overseas Investment Office gave them permission to buy Onetai Station in 2014 for $6 million.

Labour's David Cunliffe, who blew the whistle last month, now says the brothers were involved in another case as well.

In parliament on Thursday he asked Land Information Minister Louise Upston: "Was she advised that the Grozovsky brothers were not only held criminally responsible for toxic pollution from their tannery in 2011 but also implicated in a 2007 toxic pollution case at the Aguilares Sugar Mill which allegedly caused fatalities?"

Ms Upston replied: "The matter the member raises is an allegation that was and has been made and the OIO is now investigating that particular allegation."

The OIO apologised to the government for its lapse when it approved the Onetai Station purchase, which is being investigated.

Mr Cunliffe says he knows of a separate sale of a business, approved by the OIO, to a foreign company whose majority owner was also co-owner of another company which was investigated by US regulators and banned from trading.

He says he wants to know whether this was another "dropped ball".

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