Trump Adviser Peter Thiel Faces Scrutiny Over New Zealand Citizenship

Thiel didn't even have to leave California to become a new member of the South Pacific nation.

"Someone who doesn't live here, has no intention of living here, and gets a cosy citizenship ceremony in the United States, is not someone who I think most New Zealanders would consider a citizen of New Zealand".

Documents released by New Zealand officials and first reported by The New York Times on Wednesday confirmed that Thiel was granted special permission to become a citizen after he pledged to "devote a significant amount of my time and resources to the people and businesses of New Zealand".

Mr Lees-Galloway said it was clear Mr Thiel had never lived in New Zealand and never will. Mr Guy declined to comment.

He said he realized his circumstances wouldn't usually qualify him for citizenship, but that he believed he was an exception.

In his application for citizenship, Thiel included the statement "I have found no other country that aligns with my view of the future than New Zealand".

"As part of my study into how I could contribute to the existing entrepreneurial environment and further development of the venture capital market in New Zealand I have consulted with a variety of New Zealand political leaders, including meeting prime minister John Key, deputy prime minister Bill English and minister of economic development Gerry Brownlee".

The Ministry of Internal Affairs said in response: "This is New Zealand - we do not sell our citizenship; it is earned". The 2011 documents show that Thiel also remained a citizen of Germany, where he was born. He secretly bankrolled a lawsuit against the news and gossip site Gawker which led to its bankruptcy and closure. The New Zealand Herald unearthed this information after the PayPal founder, whose fortune is valued at $2.6 billion, purchased an estate estimated at $10 million in 2015, the latest of several properties and investments in the island nation, including $3 million in the accounting firm Zero and $4 million in Pacfic Fibre.

Guy, who signed the application off in June 2011 and also corresponded with Thiel's lawyers in the months following the filing of the initial application in December 2010, said last week he couldn't recall the case.

"The decision to grant Mr. Thiel citizenship is entirely based on money", Labor spokesman Iain Lees-Galloway told the Times in an interview, arguing that his citizenship file confirmed that Thiel was "granted citizenship on the grounds that he is a wealthy person".

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