Thursday 10th February 2011
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Natural Dairy New Zealand - the Chinese-backed company which unsuccessfully tried to buy the Crafar dairy farms - warned the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) that refusal of its bid could hurt the chances of New Zealand attracting further investment from China.
The revelation comes in papers released under the Official Information Act.
Ironically, the Crafar farms now look likely to be sold to another Chinese investor, Shanghai Pengxin International Group, a company owned by real-estate mogul Jiang Zhaobai.
The receivers for the Crafar family's four companies, which own 16 farms, have said they no longer have a deal with the previous group of Chinese investors, who were using a mining company rebranded as Natural Dairy NZ Holdings to buy the farms through a New Zealand company, UBNZ Funds Management.
Two cabinet ministers, Maurice Williamson and Kate Wilkinson, last year declined consent for Natural Dairy's application because they were not satisfied that all the individuals with control of Natural Dairy were of good character. The bid was fronted by bankrupted businesswoman May Wang, and former Natural Dairy director Jack Chen.
Natural Dairy had told the OIO some investors in their company were international business executives who would talk to their government and other potential investors about New Zealand's overseas investment policies.
The released papers showed Chen had a police record, though its details have been withheld.
They also included correspondence received about Ms Wang and accusations she had been investigated by the Serious Fraud Office, and a company she was formerly involved with, Dynasty Group, which failed, owing creditors at least $2 million.
Natural Dairy earlier this year told the Hong Kong stock exchange that though its applications to buy farms were declined, the company was considering buying the milk and manufacturing the finished dairy products in New Zealand for export to Asia.
Meanwhile, Tauranga City Council staff said they were alerted yesterday to a spill at a related company's re-furbished petfood factory set up in the city's Maleme Street after a passerby noticed milk in an open storm drain.
Tauranga City Council pollution prevention officer Toby Barach said that when he and a Bay of Plenty Regional Council officer arrived at the milk plant, the company had already arranged a liquid waste-removal company to vacuum the milk from the drain.
New Zealand Dairy Processing general manager Stuart Gouk said the company was working with authorities.
The milk is reported to have come from leaking cartons of ultra high temperature (UHT) milk and washdown from the plant floor.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council water-management group manager Eddie Grogan said it was investigating but would not comment until the process was completed.
New Zealand Dairy Processing was incorporated on July 30 last year with Wang named at the time as a director.
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