After women came forward to accuse former NBC Today show host Matt Lauer of sexual misconduct, the backlash has been mighty and swift.
He lost his $20m position as anchor on the flagship morning show, his squeaky clean reputation, and now – perhaps – his farm.
Lauer could be forced to sell the 27,180-acre-sheep-and-cattle farm he and his wife purchased in New Zealand in February because of the country’s strict laws on foreign investors having good character.
According to Page Six, New Zealand’s overseas investment regulator is looking into the allegations made against Lauer, as part of a review of his purchase of a large South Island farm.
That’s because foreign investors need to be of “good character”, according to the country’s Overseas Investment Office, which confirmed it was seeking further information on Lauer.
Lisa Barrett, deputy chief executive of policy and overseas Investment, confirmed the “good character” investigation following Lauer’s removal from NBC News, saying: “A condition of the consent granted to Orange Lakes Ltd to purchase the lease for Hunter Valley Station is that the individuals with control of that company must continue to be of good character.”
The key word being continue.
Although the purchase was approved by the investment office in February, “the regulator has the power to enforce the sale of property if it determines that the ‘good character’ requirement is not met.”
This means that if Lauer’s recent behaviour does not meet the “good character” standards he will be required to sell his farm.
And his chances aren’t looking good – earlier this week, the New Zealand government announced tougher standards for sales of farmland to foreigners.
Associate finance minister David Parker, defending the tougher rules, said, “We believe it’s a privilege to own New Zealand land and that we shouldn’t just be selling it willy-nilly to overseas buyers.”
Lauer, who issued an apology on Wednesday for his actions, said, “Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterised, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.”
As for the damage he has caused, Lauer insists that although “repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul-searching,” he is committed to the effort, and now views it as his “full-time job.”
Which, if he no longer owns a demanding farm on the other side of the world, he’ll have more free time to dedicate to his new gig – rectifying the damage he has caused.