Monday, 9 May 2016

NZ Panama paper revelations - the PM responds

John Key, PM avoided exposure to Guyon Espiner on this morning’s Morning Report

NZ a 'footnote' in Panama Papers - Key

New Zealand is not a tax haven and the country is barely a footnote in the Panama Papers, Prime Minister John Key says.

9 May, 2016

The Panama Papers are an unprecedented leak of 11.5 million files from the database of the world's fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca.
The documents show how the world's rich exploited secretive offshore tax regimes, including New Zealand's.

A joint report released today by RNZ News, TVNZ and investigative journalist Nicky Hager about the leaked papers has shown how New Zealand is involved in a web of companies and trusts used to protect their assets in a tax free structure.

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John Key says New Zealand is not a tax haven Photo: RNZ

Mr Key would not come on to Morning Report this morning, but he said in an interview on TVNZ there were 215,000 tax entities disclosed in the Panama Papers, and only 350 of them were in New Zealand.

More Panama Papers coverage

However, the joint investigation showed New Zealand was referenced more than 61,000 times in the papers, and showed Mossack Fonseca actively promoted New Zealand to its clients, particularly those from Latin America, as a place to park their money.

And Labour Party leader Andrew Little has called on the government to act to preserve New Zealand's reputation.

Mr Key said New Zealand is not a tax haven, and the government was ready to take steps to preserve the country's reputation.

"We are quite willing to change the law when it comes to disclosure, when it potentially comes to tax, when it comes to any issue in this area," he told TVNZ's Breakfast.

The OECD has given New Zealand tax regulations its highest ratings, he said, and an inquiry by tax expert John Shewan would cover many of the issues raised by the papers.

"We want to preserve New Zealand's reputation," he said.

Mr Key said the government did not want to make changes in isolation and the way to tackle the issues was with other countries through the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which coordinates international action on tax.

Mr Little said there was "little upside" in many secret trusts, and New Zealand relied on its excellent global reputation.

"We cannot afford to be seen as a tax haven, mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Belize."

He said Mr Key had sided with the greedy and mega-rich and had made it easier to hide money in New Zealand.

He had also shut down an inquiry into foreign trusts that officials wanted, Mr Little said.
"Now is the time to act in the interests of working people here and in other countries to make sure everyone pays their fair share."

A former senior Inland Revenue official said the revelations were not surprising, but there are weaknesses in the foreign trust regime.

Robin Oliver said information on who owns a trust, what assets were in it and who the beneficiaries were needed to be kept in a central registry.


Mr Oliver, who has acted as an advisor for the foreign trust industry, also said licensing should be introduced.

The records were obtained from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The investigation into New Zealand links in the Panama Papers is a journalistic collaboration by reporters from RNZ News, One News and investigative journalist Nicky Hager, and with the assistance of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung.

John Key chickens out of #panamapapers interview

John Key Chicken

26 November, 2014

The Radio New Zealand TV One Nicky Hager release of analysis of the Panama Papers is underway and the media response is fascinating.

First up John Key pulled out of his regular Radio New Zealand interview after learning what he was to be questioned about. He attended all other media invitations. One wonders why. Perhaps National needs the PR advice to try and work out how to respond.

On twitter some of the usual suspects including some reporters who should know better are trying to claim there is nothing to see because Key has not been shown to own shares in a Prague owned illicit Uranium producing company based in Nigeria. Of course they are ignoring the widespread concerns expressed by many that New Zealand’s tax system should be used to essentially launder money.  But some have tried to say there is nothing to see even though the information dump is not due until tomorrow.

Some of the responses have been brutal.

Panama Papers; 'It's certainly not a punch, nothing landed by Nicky Hager, at all' says

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