Casino company Sky City helped negotiate a deal struck by the
Government which fast-tracks wealthy Chinese visitors' visa
applications when they fly China Southern Airlines to New
Zealand, NZ First Leader Winston Peters has revealed.
Mr Peters yesterday forced Immigration Minister Nathan Guy to
announce the deal after he tabled internal Immigration NZ
emails showing the department's head of Intelligence, Risk
and Integrity had serious concerns about the arrangement.
But Mr Peters had Mr Guy on the defensive in Parliament this
afternoon when he asked whether Sky City Casino had been
pushing for the scheme for years.
Mr Peters said Sky City's wealthy Chinese "high rollers"
already operated under the rules which Mr Guy yesterday said
would take effect later this month.
" ... which means that a casino and a Communist government
airline have under his deal with them now acquired privileges
for their customers not available to any other group of
people anywhere else in the world," Mr Peters said.
Mr Guy said he did not agree with Mr Peters' "stupid
However Mr Peters tabled an article which appeared in an
online version of New Zealand TravelTrade magazine in which
Sky City's president of international business Ejaaz Dean was
reported as saying the casino was "working closely with China
Southern Airlines to bring VIP gamblers into Auckland
seamlessly" and in which he "confirmed the casino was in
talks to make the visa process easier".
In response to a question from Labour's Trevor Mallard, Mr
Guy said he was not aware of any Sky City involvement in the
Under the deal with China Southern Airlines struck after Mr
Guy met with the airline in April, its Gold and Silver card
holders would have reduced requirements to get into New
China Southern told Immigration NZ that its Gold and Silver
Card holders were seeking to avoid "the necessity to answer
questions relating to financial backing and employment
history and to provide evidence of these", according to an
internal Immigration NZ memo tabled by Mr Peters.
The NZ First Leader also produced another memo from the
manager of the department's Intelligence, Risk &
Integrity Division Shaun Driscoll saying they were "annoyed"
they hadn't been consulted on the deal until discussions were
"China represents a huge set of risks and given the recent
experience with students it seems we haven't learned any
lessons," the manager said, referring to the investigation
into 300 fraudulent student visas that were issued from
Immigration NZ's Beijing office.
"One of the key risks is imported criminality, but because
this is not a recognised adverse outcome for Immigration NZ
it seems to be ignored in visa decision making."
Mr Driscoll also said the deal "sets a dangerous precedent"
and pointed out China Southern Airlines' record in supplying
correct passenger information was "very patchy".
But Mr Guy said officials had worked to address the concerns
raised in the email to ensure that they were "covered off".
Mr Peters yesterday told the Herald there was still concern
within Immigration NZ about the scheme, which he understood
was already operating. It was "clearly an abuse of both New
Zealand border controls and the visitor visa system and it is
being driven directly from the minister's office".
"It is disgraceful for the minister to confirm in Parliament
today that he's prepared to weaken our border security to
simply attract a few more tourists."
A Sky City spokeswoman denied Mr Peters' claims. She said Mr
Dean's comments were given in an interview a year ago and had
been misreported by TravelTrade.
Immigration NZ said it had held no discussions with Sky City
over the proposed arrangement with China Southern Airlines,
and neither had minister Nathan Guy.
There are no special visa arrangements for customers of Sky
City, who must meet normal immigration requirements, said a
spokesman for Mr Guy.
"SkyCity have publicly stated in the past they would like the
visa process simplified to encourage more visitors to New
Zealand, and they have communicated this to Immigration New
Zealand. However they have had no input into the arrangement
with China Southern Airlines."
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