“I am writing to you on behalf of a group of industry professionals operating in the New Zealand foreign trust industry. We are concerned that there appears to be a sudden change of view by the IRD in respect of their previous support for the industry. I have spoken to the Prime Minister about this and he advised that the Government has no plans to change the status of the foreign trust regime.
“The PM asked me to contact you to arrange a meeting at your convenience with a small group of industry leaders who are keen to engage to explain how the regime works and the benefits to NZ of an industry which has been painstakingly built up over the last 25 years or so.
“I would be most grateful if you could advise what dates and times you may have for a meeting with perhaps 3 or 4 of us to put the industry’s case and clear up any misconceptions which may be changing the current change of view at IRD.”
That’s the email from John Key’s lawyer Ken Whitney to Revenue Minister Todd McClay pressuring him into a meeting around a proposal that Whitney believed would make life a little more difficult for the trust industry. A meeting was hurriedly arranged. Ultimately, no change was made to the rules around trusts.
Whitney won. Transparency lost.
In my experience, lawyers are careful with words. So what are we to make of these words:
“The PM asked me to contact you to arrange a meeting at your convenience with a small group of industry leaders … ”
Well, no. According to the PM, he did no such thing. He merely suggested to Mr Whitney that he (Whitney) have a personal chat with McClay. According to the PM, in no way did he suggest Whitney go in mob handed to lobby the Minister. Hell, it was such a casual matter, he initially neglected to mention that it was his long time personal lawyer who asked him about the possible tightening up on trusts. It was just ‘somebody’ he ‘bumped into’ and that sort of thing happens all the time.
If Mr Whitney is to be believed, any citizen can write to a Minister of the Crown, say the PM reckons a cuppa and a chat would be a fine thing and I’ll be in your office tomorrow at 10. See ya then.
In the real world, McClay saw Whitney and the others because he felt he had to. Perhaps McClay contacted Key and checked whether he really did have to meet with his mate. Perhaps he didn’t and just took the lawyer at his word when he wrote that it was a direct request from the PM. Either way, we should be told just why a Minister would go along with such an unusual arrangement.
But to be frank, McClay’s weak deferring to Whitney isn’t the matter I really want answers to.
Here’s the nub of it as I see it:
Key’s a rich man. He’s got mega bucks, but none of us know how much or where its stashed. So ….
Did New Zealand Prime Minister John Key profit from the meeting between his lawyer and his Minister?
Did Key financially benefit from the apparent decision not to tighten up the rules about trusts that appears to have directly followed on from his lawyer lobbying the Minister?
If so, has John Key abused his high office in order to make money?
Is our Prime Minister a crook?
I don’t know the answers, but I do know we need to be told. There absolutely needs to be an enquiry into this matter.
A criminal enquiry.
Show me the money, John. Show me the money!