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" John Allen, the departing head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat), has been appointed the chief executive of the NZ Racing Board.

As chief executive of Mfat, Allen was paid more than $600,000, making him one of the best paid public servants.

However, a move to the NZ Racing Board will see his salary rise further. The board's annual report shows its highest paid employee earned between $960,000 and $970,000 in total remuneration for the year.

Allen has confirmed his departure to staff. He is leaving Mfat at the start of 2015.

"I am departing with a sense of pride about the achievements of MFAT. It has been my privilege to lead the organisation over the last five and a half years and there have been many professional highlights along the way," Allen said.

"A fresh opportunity has presented itself and I think the time is right to purse this new challenge. I am likely to complete my work with MFAT at the end of January 2015.  An acting Chief Executive will be appointed in due course."

NZ Racing Board chairwoman Glenda Hughes said Allen was an "outstanding appointment for the organisation and indeed the wider racing and sports industries".

Hughes added that the industry faced challenges.

"Throughout the recruitment process we have been seeking a proven strategic leader and business growth agent with international negotiation skills.  The last point being a consideration as we enter into negotiations for our international wagering and broadcasting rights agreements."

Allen said the new job would be "fun".
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"The NZ Racing Board is a $2 billion business that plays a vital role in the New Zealand economy by supporting the racing and sports industries.  It is also the owner and operator of the TAB which is an exciting commercial enterprise and iconic New Zealand brand."


Allen has headed Mfat since June 2009, when he gave up his role as chief executive of New Zealand Post. He is a former commercial lawyer.

Allen's time at Mfat has been dogged by controversy, from a difficult restructure conducted throughout 2011, to the botched handling of the Malaysian Diplomat case, where a junior official was allowed to leave the country after being arrested and charged with attempted rape.

When the details of the Malaysian case became public it emerged that Allen was completely in the dark about the case at the time until media began asking questions, despite Mfat formally urging Malaysia to waive diplomatic immunity.

An inquiry into the handling of the case is being undertaken by John Whitehead, the former Secretary to the Treasury, although it is unclear when the report will be released.

One official involved in the handling of the case has already retired."

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