Criminal conviction for overseas investor who misled OIO
(Headline abbreviated, original headline: Criminal conviction for overseas investor who misled the Overseas Investment Office)
An overseas investor pleaded guilty and has been convicted and fined $100,000 in the Auckland District Court for misleading the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) during an investigation into a property transaction. This is the first time a person has been convicted of an offence under the Overseas Investment Act 2005.
On Friday 7 February 2020, Dr Won Joo Hur pleaded guilty to one charge of obstructing an OIO investigation and he was fined $100,000.
Vanessa Horne, Group Manager for the OIO, says Dr Hur and his lawyer gave false information to the OIO in May 2017. “In July 2016, Dr Hur entered an agreement to buy a property in Helensville,” says Vanessa Horne. “The transaction could not be settled as Dr Hur was an overseas person and he did not have consent under the Overseas Investment Act for the purchase. A company associated with Dr Hur’s lawyer bought the property to avoid Dr Hur forfeiting a large deposit.
“The property purchase required consent under the Overseas Investment Act because the company was buying the land on behalf of Dr Hur. The OIO opened an investigation into the property transaction and requested information from Dr Hur and his lawyer.
“During the investigation, Dr Hur and his lawyer told the OIO the property was transferred at arm’s length from Dr Hur. This was untrue because Dr Hur paid the purchase price and was the beneficial owner of the property, with the company holding title to it on his behalf.
“They also created a false loan agreement to support their version of events and provided it to the OIO.”
Ms Horne says providing false information to the OIO is a criminal offence and undermines the overseas investment regime.
“We take enforcing New Zealand’s overseas investment rules very seriously and we will continue to take strong action against anyone who breaks the rules.”
Dr Hur’s lawyer, Dr Jaeho Choi, has pleaded guilty to the same charge and is due to be sentenced in the Auckland District Court on 28 April. Civil proceedings against the company that bought the property are pending before the High Court.