New Zealand authorities have determined ex-“Today” show host Matt Lauer can keep his 26,500-acre lakeside ranch. An investigation was sparked when Lauer was accused of sexual misconduct and fired by NBC last November. Under New Zealand law, foreign buyers of important assets must be of good character.
The provision is broad and includes criminal convictions as well as other offense authorities deem reflect poorly on an owner’s integrity. The New Zealand officals concluded there wasn’t enough evidence that Lauer had breached a “good character” condition.
Lauer purchased a lease last year for the Hunter Valley Station, an estate near the ski resort of Queenstown, also adjacent to a UNESCO World Heritage site. The property includes a five-bedroom lakefront homestead as well as several huts, about 13,000 cattle and merino sheep, and runs alongside a river that’s filled with trout and salmon.
New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office (OIO) said that as part of its investigation, it had taken sworn statements from Lauer and had been in touch with NBC.
“Mr. Lauer has not been charged with any offence, nor convicted, and the evidence available to the OIO at this time does not establish that Mr. Lauer is unfit to continue to hold the asset,” said Lisa Barrett, an official at Land Information New Zealand, in a statement. “However, in reaching this position, we do not condone the inappropriate way that Mr. Lauer has behaved.”