You know the large German Industrialist who gave Auckland $500,000 for a fireworks display and John Banks $50,000 for his Mayoral campaign? The man whose house was raided by helicopter riding armed police for the heinous offence of breaching copyright? The man who the Government has been hell bent on getting extradited? The one who John Key says he never heard of until just before the raid?
Well it appears that the Government applied political pressure on Immigration NZ and the SIS to grant Dotcom approval to stay.
The SIS tried to block Kim Dotcom’s residency application but dropped their objection 90 minutes after being told there was “political pressure” to let the tycoon into New Zealand, secret documents from the spy agency reveal.
Last night the leader of the Dotcom-funded Internet Party, Laila Harre, said she “wouldn’t have been comfortable” granting the tycoon residency if she had been the Minister of Immigration.
Documents declassified and released through the Official Information Act show the Security Intelligence Service describing Dotcom as a “bad but wealthy man” who was under criminal investigation by the FBI.
And the Minister in charge of the SIS is?
The “political pressure” claim was made in October 2010 after the SIS blocked Dotcom’s residency application when it learned of the FBI’s criminal investigation into his Megaupload empire.
On October 22 that year, one SIS agent wrote to another saying: “INZ [Immigration NZ] has phoned me to advise that the INZ CEO [Nigel Bickle] is questioning why this case is on hold. Apparently there is some ‘political pressure’ to process this case.”
The agent noted the need for the “CEO” to be briefed on the Dotcom case. The SIS director at the time was Dr Warren Tucker, who reports directly to Prime Minister John Key.
One hour and 27 minutes later, another SIS agent said the agency’s block would be lifted, writing: “Since Dotcom is not of security concern, there is no reason for this application to be on hold with us. Please can you inform your INZ contacts of this, also noting Dotcom is the subject of a criminal investigation and that they need to discuss the case with NZ Police before they proceed with granting him PR [permanent residency].”
On October 27, 2010, the SIS again urged Immigration NZ to discuss Dotcom with the police, saying “just from looking at his records INZ do have enough on his criminal history to not give him [residency]“.
The next day, an SIS agent was instructed to brief INZ’s intelligence chief, Theo Kuper, ahead of a meeting scheduled with Dr Coleman to brief him on “the background regarding FBI/NZ Police”.
In an email later that day, the SIS agent asked: “How did the meeting go with the minister?”
Mr Kuper responded: “My responsibility is to merely provide information and advice which hopefully will lead to the right decision being made. What I do know is that the Minister of Immigration is an interested party as the Investor Plus Residence category (for high rollers with more [than] $10 million to spend in NZ) is a government priority because of the economic benefits to NZ.”
The Herald has released the original papers released and these can be viewed here.
This revelation raises many questions. On the face of it Jonathan Coleman applied direct pressure to persuade Immigration NZ to change its view on Dotcom’a application even though he was told that Dotcom was a “bad but wealthy man”. One can speculate on possible reasons. The Dotcom donations to John Banks were made in June 2010 some four months before. Maybe Banks put a good word in with Jonathan Coleman?
And you have to wonder if the FBI preferred that Dotcom remain in New Zealand. If he was to move elsewhere then extradition may have been an issue. The released papers record that the FBI was interested in the possibility of joint action with New Zealand Police aimed at Dotcom.
Fortunately for National John Key is currently overseas and will be unable to answer questions for a period of time on the subject. But it is starting to stretch things to incredulity for the Government to maintain that Key had never heard of Dotcom until just before the raid.
Updated: See also