WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand’s overseas investment regulator said on Thursday it was discussing allegations made against former U.S. “Today” show host Matt Lauer with his representative as part of a review of his purchase of a large South Island farm.
NBC News fired Lauer on Wednesday after a female colleague accused him of inappropriate sexual behaviour, the network said, making him the latest rich and powerful man to be felled by such accusations.
New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office cited the requirement that foreign investors needed to be “of good character” as it confirmed it was seeking further information on Lauer.
“The Overseas Investment Office is aware that allegations have been made in relation to Matt Lauer and that he is no longer working for NBC News in the USA,” Lisa Barrett, Deputy Chief Executive of Policy and Overseas Investment, said in an emailed statement. “We are discussing this with his representative and are seeking further information.”
“A condition of the consent granted to Orange Lakes Ltd to purchase the lease for Hunter Valley Station is that the individuals with control of that company must continue to be of good character,” Barrett added, referring to the holding company owned by Lauer and his wife.
The investment office approved the purchase of an 11,000 hectare (27,180 acres) sheep and cattle farm in New Zealand’s picturesque South Island by Lauer and his wife in February.
The regulator has the power to enforce the sale of property if it determines that the “good character” requirement is not met.
Ken Lindner, Lauer’s agent in Los Angeles, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Foreign ownership of land has generated a public backlash in New Zealand in recent years, and was a factor in the centre-left Labour Party winning a September national election to govern in a coalition with the nationalist NZ First Party.
The new government earlier this week announced tougher standards for sales of farmland to foreigners.
Reporting by Charlotte Greenfield. Editing by Jane Wardell and Michael Perry