Peter Thiel citizenship file released

Controversial billionaire Peter Thiel told former Internal Affairs Minister Nathan Guy he had met with former Prime Minister John Key, current Prime Minister Bill English, and former Minister of Economic Development Gerry Brownlee in efforts to gain New Zealand citizenship.

He failed to meet the standard requirements necessary for citizenship - and had only been in New Zealand four times when he applied.

However Mr Thiel argued his citizenship should be granted because there were exceptional circumstances - such as his skills as an entrepreneur and his philanthropy.

Mr Thiel said the meetings with New Zealand political leaders were "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".

He also met with prominent business leaders, including Sam Morgan and Rod Drury.

"These meetings, conducted by either myself or staff or both, were extremely valuable, not only in getting to know a range of achievers in quite distinct business arenas, but also because I was able to gain a deeper understanding of the business environment in New Zealand," he wrote.

Labour attacks "dubious" citizenship deal

However, Labour Party immigration spokesperson Iain Lees-Galloway says "there is nothing for New Zealand to gain" from giving Mr Thiel citizenship.

"I think all our suspicions have been confirmed," he says.

"He's never lived in New Zealand, never had any intention of living in New Zealand, and in fact received his citizenship in a ceremony in the United States."

Mr Lees-Galloway says Mr Thiel was given citizenship because of his wealth.

"All the supporting documents that the Minister has used to grant residency have made the case that he should be given an exemption because he is a wealthy person who has invested money in New Zealand," he says.

"He has essentially been able to buy citizenship because the Government has bumped him to the top of the queue because he is a wealthy person."

Mr Lees-Galloway is now calling for legal reform.

"We should have debate about who can acquire citizenship," he says.

"We need to tidy up the law so these kind of backroom deals, in very dubious circumstances, can't carry on."

The background to the case

The Department of Internal Affairs released documents on Wednesday stating Mr Thiel's case, and explaining its decision to greenlight Mr Thiel's citizenship.

It was approved in 2011 by Mr Guy. Mr Thiel attended a private citizenship ceremony at the New Zealand Consulate in Santa Monica in August 2011.

Mr Thiel has been a controversial figure in the United States lately, being one of the first prominent businesspeople to support the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. He's now serving as part of Trump's transition team.

Mr Thiel's connection to New Zealand is mostly financial. He has invested around $50 million in accountancy software company Xero and the New Zealand Venture Investment Fund.

His citizenship allowed him to purchase a 193 hectare estate in Lake Wanaka in 2015 with Overseas Investment Office approval.