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Dodgy foreign trusts – will English take action?

Written By: - Date published: 9:43 am, January 19th, 2017 - 24 comments
Categories: accountability, bill english, Ethics, Globalisation, law - Tags: , , , ,

Matt Nippert continued his excellent work on foreign trusts yesterday in The Herald:

Jet, mansions figure in $232 million foreign trust case to be heard in Auckland court

An Auckland courtroom will on Friday become a battleground over Manhattan penthouses and a private jet amid allegations that they are the proceeds of a globe-spanning mega-fraud.

The High Court at Auckland is set down to hear a request from relatives of controversial Malaysian financier Jho Low who oppose the seizure of assets worth $230 million alleged by the United States Department of Justice to be the proceeds of crime.

US court filings said the relatives are beneficiaries of a number of New Zealand trusts that are claimed to directly own a number assets caught up the probe of a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund known as 1MDB.

The filings claim a number of New Zealand trusts, with names as varied as Elephant Sun and Stars Tower, were the direct owners of assets including a Bombardier private jet, a hotel in Beverly Hills and a $55m Los Angeles mansion formerly owned by Fantasy Island actor Ricardo Montalban.

According to Companies Office filings, the New Zealand trusts in question were established and directed by staff of Auckland law firm Cone Marshall, and also used the local trust specialists’ Stanley Street office as a mailing address. …

Of more interest than the specifics is the wider implications:

Case rekindles trusts debate

The appearance of New Zealand trusts in the 1MDB affair threatens to re-ignite controversy over our foreign trust industry.

The release last April of the Panama Papers, a large-scale leak of previously secret company and trust data maintained by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, had thrust New Zealand’s role in the international finance scene into the spotlight.

A subsequent government inquiry, headed by John Shewan, had proposed tighter regulation and more transparency for the foreign trust industry but concluded there was “no direct evidence of illicit funds being hidden in New Zealand foreign trusts”.

The Labour and Green parties both said the 1MDB developments – disclosing control of $230m in alleged proceeds of crime by foreign trusts which will this week be contested in an Auckland courtroom – meant Shewan’s conclusions should be revised.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the appearance of New Zealand in the 1MDB affair risked our international reputation and showed Shewan’s conclusions were “naive”. …

Will Bill English clean up the mess that John Key was determined to ignore?


24 comments on “Dodgy foreign trusts – will English take action? ”

  1. Carolyn_nth 1

    Very good work by Matt Nippert. He’s one of a handful of investigative journalists at the NZH given the time and resources to dig deep on specific issues. It means they don’t publish articles every day/week. But do so when they have something new to add to the public record.

    Nippert: Wealth porn, white collar court action and political scandal are my three holy grails for stories.

    Heh.

    And the amorality/immorality of such fraudsters is shown in this passage from Nippert’s article:

    Other assets caught up in the DoJ action, but not owned by New Zealand trusts, and alleged to have been funded or purchased with fraud include a $1b Manhattan hotel, a large slice of record label EMI’s back catalogue, Monet and Van Gogh paintings, and rights to the film Wolf of Wall Street.

    The Wolf of Wall Street, starred Leonardo DiCaprio in a based on the true story of a white-collar criminal. A DoJ official said at the time the complaint was laid that the subject material was deeply ironic: “This is a case where life imitated art.”

    It shows how such self-enriching, dodgy dealers infiltrate all aspects of life (as well as diverse parts of the globe including NZ). Such leeches are everywhere, poisoning the economy, life, recreation, etc.

  2. Draco T Bastard 2

    Will Bill English clean up the mess that John Key was determined to ignore?

    Nope. Protecting the ill-gotten gains of the rich is National’s reason for being.

    • tc 2.1

      And why they changed the rules to allow these trusts to operate easily in NZ including removal of gift duty.

      • Keith 2.1.1

        Setting up New Zealand as a tax haven goes down as one of the biggest disgraces of any government here.

        i recall the removal of gift duty in 2011 was explained by Dunne and Key etc as a silly out of date law that never raised any revenue. Typically, as per the Key National government it was another big lie wrapped in the truth.

        What they knew damned well, or at least those who had an eye on hiding wealth no matter its source, was that Gift Duty helped to prevent rorts going on and taking it away was a step to creating Keys tax haven. And were it not for the Panama papers we would still be in the dark what Key and his associates were up to.

        That Shewans very ring fenced “investigation” into our tax haven is now being called naive is terribly polite but the fact he assurred us no dodgy shit was going on was of course laughable.

        What a great country we are to have an ex PM whose purpose for being in that role is so very opaque. What else has Key done that we will have to wait for another computer hack to find out?

        • reason 2.1.1.1

          +100 Keith ….. the necessary steps Key took in building Nz tax haven Inc, are documented all over our Parliaments Hansard …..and other places

          Our media chose not to report on these events and what our sub prime prime minister was up too …..

          Directly leading to Nz citizens being surprised,…. when Key was personally and specifically named by the panama papers/mosack fonseca whistle blower …..

          And when key first appointed his own ‘creative’ judge to review his dirty tax Haven …

          Our media did not report on John Shewans inappropriateness …. after his smoking gun role in the $2.2 billion unsuccessful tax vehicle con …….. where Aussie owned banks tried driving off with Billions in NZ cash for Hospitals, schools, pensions etc …..

          “The table shows that banks underpaid their taxes by $1.184 billion. Once the underpayment penalty interest rates are factored in, the combined banks owe the Government and people of New Zealand about $2.25 billion.” http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10586592

          ————————————————–

          Shewan did the bare minimum on his report …….and only admitted what we already knew ……. because the Audience for the report were professionals …..and not as stupid as Keys meat head believers .

          Shewan wrote a lot of words in his report …. But never put Tax followed by Haven.

          As Draco said …… The Nats will pretend to do a fix… while actually protecting their legalized looting laws …..

          shewan could help them write the new cons and loopholes ……

          ” be amazed at the extent Westpac went to in order to have this
          series of structured finance arrangements—very, very complicated
          structured finance arrangements—in order to, in Justice Harrison’s words,
          simply “avoid paying tax”. That was the only purpose of those
          arrangements.
          It is also quite sad that one of the people involved—in fact, he was one of
          the key advisers to Westpac in this case—was no less than John Shewan,
          who is now chairman of PricewaterhouseCoopers,”

          http://visar.csustan.edu/aaba/PINSTRIPEMAFIA.pdf

  3. Cinny 3

    Fascinating article, good work Mr Nippet. Found it interesting to see a Rothschild connection.

    Loophole Cowboys exploiting our laws, aided by the outgoing Government who create the laws.

    It’s all very House of Cards, especially with NZs Wolf of Wall St currently exiting the building.

  4. Dodgy foreign trusts – will English take action?

    Ooh! Ooh! This one’s easy! “No.”

    It’s election year and English is going to want lots of cash from the people running these money-laundering operations, so I’d rate the chances of him turning off their money tap to be effectively 0.

    • tc 4.1

      +1 imo he will setup a lame inquiry that effectively will kick it into touch.

      Opportunity for the opposition here but they seem about as effective as the proverbial tits on a bull.

    • Thinkerr 4.2

      Maybe set up a Royal Commission to report back in December. That’s what I would do…

  5. Adrian Thornton 5

    If any one seriously thinks that English will do anything substantive on this they must be pretty deluded.
    Will this story become the focus of NZ MSM for long enough to actually force action out of English…no, that would first require a fully functioning independent critical thinking media..ahh the stuff of dreams.
    But so whats new, this story, just like the story two days ago on the sickening inequality that free market neo liberal economics is mainly responsible for, is already forgotten.
    Unless it effects property values, the all blacks/sports or some vacuous celebrity or other salacious news then MSM just ain’t all that interested, often it seems as if they are catering to an audience with a perceived attention span of a two year old.

    The only reason that homelessness got any traction at all last year was solely because of John Campbell and his very effective dripping tap news technique.
    If it wasn’t for him forcing New Zealanders to confront this reality and be embarrassed about it, night after night on RNZ, no one else in MSM would have given a fuck for more than a minute.

    This is a good piece of reporting, but in isolation, it very rapidly becomes forgotten.

    • tc 5.1

      Public broadcasting is the only way forward if the nz public wants to actually be informed.

      Till then to quote alexei sayle a la the young ones it will be ‘ celebrity strip sex snooker darts on ice’

    • Wensleydale 5.2

      Front page story on Stuff yesterday was, I shit you not, “Tennis Players Are Wearing Black And White Stripey Outfits Now!” I think the chances of the MSM doing any kind of in-depth investigation into dodgy trusts and the tentacles that reach into the Beehive are pretty minimal. Besides, coverage of corrupt financial activity tends to be rather dry and complicated, and that sort of thing ruins your evening when you’d rather be watching Reno Rumble.

    • red-blooded 5.3

      Radio NZ explored this issue in depth and over quite a long period of time when it last came up. They kept up the focus for quite a while and also explored the weaknesses of the inquiry and government follow-up.

  6. Draco T Bastard 6

    You know, if these trusts got assets through crime then all these beneficiaries are a href=”http://legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1961/0043/latest/DLM330408.html”>actually receiving stolen goods and need to be charged.

    • Wensleydale 6.1

      That’s not how it works, Draco. You have to be the “wrong” sort of beneficiary to be charged with anything here in New Zealand. It’s all part of our brighter future.

  7. McFlock 7

    But there’s absolutely no evidence that NZ’s relaxed trust laws are being used for anything dodgy /sarc

    Wasn’t that the common refrain from our local tory swine when the mossack fonseca emails came out?

  8. Tricledrown 8

    Kim Dot commie formerly Dot Kapitalist.
    Has had the book thrown at him because he wasn’t in the right circles .
    Just Trying to buy his way in openly through bribing John Banks and a fire works display wasn’ t the way its Done.
    Doing your bribery and corruption behind closed doors .
    Eclusive Brethren secretly meeting with high ranking National supporters officials bloggers and in MP’s including John Key Bill English Don Brash + many others.
    Monsack Fonseca’s agent in NZ John Keys personal lawyer.
    Hasn’t been seen since the whistleblower.
    Judith Collins Orivida exporting milk powder when no other company can export to China water theft with Jenny Shipley.
    Sabin getting continual name suppression and powerful lawyers to bully witnesses in trial.
    The cover up is nearly complete just like Dirty Politics the mainstream Media dropped all enquiries into these trusts which are laundering for the Drug Drug Cartel’s Corrupt Politicians CIA black opps tax dodgers and socold legitimate Banks like Merrill Lynch.

    • Tricledrown 8.1

      I forgot to mention these tax haven Banks National are allowing to trade in our country are helping fund terrorism through hiding their money.
      While our Soldiers are being put in harms way by the very people who sent them to fight and train rebuild.
      Key and National by not getting rid of Monsack Fonsecca and other tax haven Banks are aiding and abetting the Drug Cartels and Terrorists.
      Treasonous .
      Hence white wash enquiry by dodgy taxdodgding expert

  9. Mrs Brillo 9

    I suggest that as well as recording your opinions on the issue here, you send them to the Herald so they at least know the opinions are out there. Suggest avenues for follow up, if you know of any, to them and to Radio NZ and anywhere else you think could get some traction.
    This issue has to be pushed. It’s important. Passive grizzles to our mates will get us nowhere.

  10. Red Hand 10

    A New Zealand foreign trust industry ? How about industrial dairy farming and animal slaughter houses, low-end tourism, residential property trading and slave labour by immigrants. I seriously don’t care if people use NZ law to protect their wealth if it brings foreign money into the country. Meanwhile the likes of Wynyard Group go bust for lack of capital http://www.wynyardgroup.com/ and Chris Liddell deserts Xero.

  11. Tricledrown 11

    Zero profit so far.

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