Morgan defends helping Thiel citizenship

3:13 pm on 2 February 2017

Trade Me founder Sam Morgan has explained helping American billionaire Peter Thiel's citizenship bid, but distanced himself from Mr Thiel's support for Donald Trump.

Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel Photo: AFP

Mr Morgan took to Twitter to defend his support for Mr Thiel, but said he shared others' concerns about Mr Thiel becoming a citizen when the tech billionaire did not intend to live in New Zealand.

Mr Thiel was granted New Zealand citizenship under exceptional circumstances in 2011 by Minister Nathan Guy despite having only visited the country four times.

Mr Morgan wrote a letter in support of Mr Thiel's application at the time and today Mr Morgan tweeted that he did not think most New Zealanders understood just how valuable opening up the country to foreign investment is.

Mr Morgan said he did not agree with Mr Thiel's support for President Trump, calling Mr Trump "dangerous, incompetent and just a horrible person".

Mr Morgan tweeted he was "totally supportive of debate around how we grant citizenship".

One person told Mr Morgan they understood his logic, but said, "it strikes me he doesn't intend to live here, which bugs me for some reason..."

Mr Morgan replied he agreed with that sentiment.

An immigration law specialist, Simon Laurent told RNZ he did not think Mr Thiel needed citizenship to invest in New Zealand businesses, or promote the country's entrepreneurs.

"He already had residence and he had the ability to come in and out of the country.

"I would raise the question as to why it was necessary for him to have citizenship to do the sort of things he said he wanted to do for New Zealand," Mr Laurent said.

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