Land Information Minister Louise Upston has said Inland Revenue requested information about what is now known to be the Onetai station purchase.
Panama Papers: Uruguayan link to $6m farm sale
The Panamanian trust set up by Mossack Fonseca to buy the Onetai station in Taranaki has a Uruguayan connection that may not have brought to the attention of ministers who approved its sale.
Onetai station was bought for $6 million in 2014 through the trust, Coel & Muir, which was established in Panama by law firm Mossack Fonseca.
The purchase has come under scrutiny in the wake of the "Panama Papers leak" which exposed how the wealthy used Mossack Fonseca to move their wealth around the world.
The documents released by the OIO appear to show the government agency was uncertain about Coel & Muir's ownership after receiving the purchase application.
Land Information Minister Louise Upston had previously said the OIO – which needs to approve large or sensitive foreign purchases – was aware of one application from an organisation that was associated with Mossack Fonseca.
She said in Parliament on April 7 that it had received a request for information from Inland Revenue in relation to the application.
The OIO initially refused to release the identity of the applicant on the grounds that would "prejudice the maintenance of the law".
But it relented and released a raft of documents on Thursday evening following an appeal by Stuff to the Ombudsman's Office and in the wake of the Labour Party revealing Coel & Muir as the buyer of the sensitive land.
Coel & Muir was established in Panama in July 2013.
A Panamanian public deed, translated from Spanish, identified three Uruguayan residents – Marcelo Saul Rivero Sosa, Nestor Gustavo Cardozo Garcia and Gustava Daniel Chaves Mantaras – as its "first directors and officers".
But documents supplied to the OIO by New Zealand law firm Kensington Swan said Coel & Muir was controlled and – the law firm later stated – "effectively owned" by Argentinian businessmen Rafael and Federico Grozovsky.
An email sent to Kensington Swan by OIO senior solicitor Tyne Schofield on November 10, 2013, after it had received Coel & Muir's application to buy the Onetai station, indicated it was still uncertain about who owned the company.
"I am not sure ... who the shareholders and directors of Coel & Muir are," the OIO solicitor wrote.
An OIO memo dated four days later said Kensington Swan partner Gerald Fitzgerald and solicitor Abby Tearle had called to explain Coel & Muir was a "blind trust" that was controlled by the Grozovsky brothers through a power of attorney.
There appears to be no indication in the documents that the OIO sought further clarification on the identity of Coel & Muir's beneficial owners after that exchange.
The OIO advised ministers to accept the sale in December 2013, telling them Coel & Muir was "ultimately owned" by the Grozovsky brothers.
Coel & Muir was represented in its OIO purchase application by Kensington Swan.
It said the Grozovsky brothers were directors of tanning business Industrias Magromer, which employed 400 people, and were looking for further investments in New Zealand in addition to the Onetai station.
The Government approved the sale of the farm in February 2014. The OIO has said it is confident it assessed Coel & Muir's application correctly.