Alphabet CEO Larry Page.
Emmanuel Dunand | AFP | Getty Images
Larry Page, the billionaire Google co-founder, was granted residency in New Zealand and spent time in the country during the coronavirus pandemic, the New Zealand government confirmed to CNBC on Friday.
Page, 48, applied for New Zealand residency through the Investor Plus Nationwide Residence Visa in November 2020, but the application could not be processed because he was abroad at the time.
The visa, which requires applicants to invest in New Zealand over a three-year period, must be NZ $ 10 million (US $ 7 million), and was then processed after landing in Auckland on January 12th , the day after the Page family filed an urgent request that their son be evacuated from Fiji due to a medical emergency.
“After Mr. Page entered New Zealand, his application was processed and approved on February 4, 2021,” said a statement from Immigration New Zealand.
New Zealand Health Minister Andrew Little told parliament on Thursday that the country was receiving around 100 medical inquiries a year. “I was told that all normal steps were being followed in this case,” he replied when asked how Page had managed to enter New Zealand when the borders were closed to non-residents. Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, New Zealand has kept its infection rates low by refusing entry to overseas travelers.
“New Zealand immigration can confirm that Larry Page has met the relevant requirements to enter New Zealand,” a spokesman told CNBC.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told Parliament that she had not been informed of Page’s visit. “With all [medevac] Cases, these are decisions for clinicians, and I have absolute trust that our clinicians make decisions, “said Ardern.
Located in relative isolation from the world’s largest population centers, New Zealand has become a popular travel destination for wealthy individuals in recent years.
The sparsely populated country of around 5 million people is considered to be one of the best places in the world to survive a social collapse, as it is relatively independent in terms of food and energy. It also has a temperate climate and a stable political system.
News of Page’s visit and residence has sparked a longstanding debate over whether the super-rich can essentially buy access to the South Pacific county how and when they want. Billionaire Peter Thiel, who co-founded PayPal and benefited from an early bet on Facebook, received Kiwi citizenship in 2017 after spending only 12 days in New Zealand.
Thiel has invested in the local start-up Xero and bought real estate across the country as well as a 193 hectare property in Wanaka on New Zealand’s rugged South Island. Although he has not yet built anything on the site, he has been in contact with at least three architects.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman told the New Yorker in 2016 that in the event of a systemic breakdown, he and Thiel plan to board a private jet and fly to one of Thiel’s properties in New Zealand.