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Overseas investor fined $1.2m buying Northland land without consent

An overseas investor has been ordered to pay $1.2 million in penalties for buying several Northland properties without proper consents. 

Ilchi Lee Source: ilchi.com

Between 2014 and 2016, businessman Seung Heun Lee, who is also known as Ilchi Lee, bought seven properties in the region, valued at $10.4 million, to use for a meditation tourism business. He is now a New Zealand resident, but wasn’t at the time the properties were purchased. 

In the Wellington High Court today, Justice Muir found Lee and companies Double Pine Investment Limited and Mediation Tour Limited didn’t follow the Overseas Investment Act rules. 

He was ordered to pay $1,246,625, as well as an additional $30,000 in legal costs. 

Lee said English was his second language, so he didn’t fully understand the sale documents he signed. He said he did not know he needed consent under the Overseas Investment Act. 

Lee co-operated with the Overseas Investment Office throughout its investigation. 

Lee, a spiritual leader, wanted the land to build retreats. According to media reports, he has founded a yoga movement, is a best selling author and invented a "belly button healing wand".