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
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.
It also has agents passing on information about the FBI
investigation for then Minister of Immigration Jonathan
Coleman, described as an "interested party" wanting to get
"high rollers" into New Zealand.
After the release of the latest documents, Dotcom's legal
team said it would go back to court with the new information.
The Herald has made multiple Official Information Act
requests since Dotcom was arrested in January 2012 on FBI
charges of criminal copyright violation, in an attempt to
discover why he was given residency. The requests have never
produced the SIS information -- until a request in May
accompanied by a privacy waiver from Dotcom.
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
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
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
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."
An Immigration NZ spokesman said last night no contact had
been made with police after the SIS urged Immigration to do
And despite SIS papers speaking of an FBI "criminal"
investigation, the spokesman said they only ever considered
Dotcom to be a "person of interest to the FBI", which "did
not meet the threshold to trigger a deferral of the residence
application because of character concerns".
An earlier statement from Immigration NZ -- provided by the
SIS -- said "it appears the government interest in the
success of the [business migration] policy may have been
misconstrued as political pressure".
The statement appeared to be contradictory, saying so much
time had passed "it is impossible to know whether this is an
accurate reflection of comments that were made" while adding
"INZ can state unequivocally that there was no political
Previously released OIA material shows Dr Coleman was
extensively briefed on Dotcom, his history and his residency
application in detail before it was granted. Large sections
of the briefings to Dr Coleman were redacted, with officials
saying the information needed to be kept secret to protect
relations with another country and avoid prejudice to
criminal investigations or trial rights.
But when the residency was granted, Dr Coleman's signature
was absent -- approval for Dotcom entering was delegated by
"special direction" to two Immigration NZ officials.
A spokesman for Dr Coleman said last night: "Dr Coleman is
- David Fisher of The New Zealand Herald