Key’s Lawyer is a Mossack Man

Written By: - Date published: 6:44 am, May 10th, 2016 - 50 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, business, capitalism, class war, Economy, International, making shit up - Tags: , ,

Ken Whitney, John Key’s long time lawyer, has strong links to disgraced tax haven firm Mossack Fonseca. And, crucially, so did most of the people in the room when the then Revenue Minister Todd McClay folded on the  potential moves to moderate New Zealand’s foreign trust industry.

Radio NZ and TVOne News have this morning revealed that four of the five companies represented in the meeting in which McClay dropped plans to regulate the industry had clear links to Mossack Fonseca at the time. The other firm was Antipodes Trust Group, Whitney’s own firm.

Key has previously said that Whitney had no links to Mossack Fonseca. But it turns out Whitney was a director of the Rothschild Trust (NZ) Limited, which owned and was the sole director of Capewood Investments, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) that had Mossack Fonseca as its agent.

Whitney also acted as a referee for another Mossack Fonseca related firm, Cone Marshall, helping them build their shadowy business. According to John Key, Whitney is operating at “the highest ethical level and he is of the highest oversight, he happens to be brilliant.“.

So it appears that either the man who was the Prime Ministers closest legal confident and who handled the moving of his money around the world has lied to Key. Or, well… someone’s lying, for sure.

50 comments on “Key’s Lawyer is a Mossack Man”

  1. Stunnedmullet 1

    And………

    • And … about now, John Key is booking the bus he’s going to throw Ken Whitney under.

      • b waghorn 1.1.1

        You mean getting the driver of the bus he through him under last week to chuck it in reverse and finish him off.

    • Paul 1.2

      Please do not derail this thread.
      Thank you.

      • Grantoc 1.2.1

        Well the thread does raise the ‘so what’ question.

        So what if Ken Whitney is ‘a Mossack Man’? Wheres the crime in that?

        Its like saying Te Reo Putake is a ‘labour Man’ – so what.

        • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2.1.1

          Even the lying corrupt Prime Minister knows the answer to that question:

          …because I’ve got to look down the barrel of the camera and make sure everything’s right.

          Keep clutching at straws.

        • McFlock 1.2.1.2

          Are you arguing moral equivalence between “labour” and Mossack?

          Because otherwise it’s like saying “Jim is an MSF man” or “Joan is a KGB woman” or “Fred is a Sinola man”. None of them necessarily mean that the person has done anything morally or legally wrong, but the likelihood that each has varies significantly…

          • Grantoc 1.2.1.2.1

            MF

            My point, probably not that well made, is to test the significance of the connection that is being made between Whitney and his relationship with MS.

            In the breathless eagerness of many on this blog and elsewhere to try to find something, anything to entrap JK in some form of criminal activity, a big deal is being made about Whitney’s connection to MF. But thats as far as it goes – and so ‘so what’ becomes the question. or, ‘Whats the big deal?’

            There is no evidence yet of anything criminal – although the implication of the heading for this post suggests there is. And unless and until there is evidence of criminal activity by Whitney or anyone else and that criminal evidence implicates Key, the accusations being leveled at JK are just like a pre mature ejaculation – where the partner is left saying, ‘is that it’

            • One Anonymous Bloke 1.2.1.2.1.1

              So you’re the latest in a stream of right wingers who need to have the difference between ethical and legal explained to you. Under oath, Ken Whitney demonstrated that he knew the difference – despite his weird phrasing.

              If it seems ok to you to establish vehicles that enable tax avoidance and money laundering because there’s a possibility that no-one will take advantage of the situation – well, I suspect you will find few who agree.

              So you follow your leader’s shabby shifting story, and today’s meme is “prove it”!

              • Grantoc

                Not at all OAB

                Legalistically, to date, there is no evidence that JK or anyone close to him have indulged in criminal activity with regards to foreign trusts.

                Ethically, there is a debate to be had in relation to foreign trusts. But that debate is reasonably complex – in my view its certainly not as black and white as you and others seem to think.

                Importantly in the current situation acting unethically (if that is demonstrated) is not breaking the law. The two matters are separate.

                BTW I have not arrived at a position as to whether or not its ok to establish foreign trusts. Avoiding tax and money laundering (especially money laundering) is a step to far in my opinion. Foreign trusts for other purposes may well be fine.

                • One Anonymous Bloke

                  Well you pretty much have to bring up that red herring, eh. Rather than face the fact that the Prime Minister personally lobbied for and oversaw legislative changes which led to the proliferation of tax avoidance and/or money-laundering vehicles, you pretend he’s been accused of criminal activity then demand evidence for that which he has not been accused.

                  Yawn.

            • McFlock 1.2.1.2.1.2

              It’s not actually about “entrapping” anyone.

              It’s basically the same as realising how crappy our water is when many of us were under the illusion that we’re clean and green, and we market ourselves internationally as such.

              We get told repeatedly how we do so well in international non-corruption rankings. Then we find that, through some incremental tweaks, we’ve become a hive of money funnels that have minimum oversight. That the PM’s long term friend is active in this industry, and that there was a bit of a public/personal mix in how lobbying was done to stop us tightening the regulations. That bankrupt nobodies in regional NZ turn out to live at the registered address of alleged bribery bagmen. That the industry seems to routinely be used by people with shady reputations.

              None of that is necessarily criminal in NZ. Nor are the polluted rivers. But they certainly give normal people the shits.

            • Nick Morris 1.2.1.2.1.3

              At this point no one has even tried to suggest criminality. The point is, Grantoc, that those lucky or rich or powerful enough to affect national statute, do not need to have recourse to illegal behaviour, because they are able to modify law to suit their morally indefensible ends.

              The suggestion that legality is the appropriate test for acceptability would sanction virtually all regimes from Caligula to Pol Pot and everything in between.

        • Jeff Saunders 1.2.1.3

          Don’t you get it Grantoc? It links the Prime Minister of NZ to a shady unethical world where the super rich hide money from the tax man making it unavailable for education, health and all those other things that modern states manage. Does our PM have a moral compass?

  2. tc 2

    A lie often needs many supporting lies in order to build a ‘plausible’ argument so this has plenty to run as he maintains his front.

    I do hope the opposition join forces in a cohesive manner on this, johnny has been sprung on a matter he will find very hard to make go away for once, unlike pike river, blind trusts, tranzrail shares etc.

    Enabling the rich and dodgy to pay no tax which forces the burden onto others smashes the brighter future theme into pieces and shows the emporer in all his finery.

  3. I think OliverShaw may have been in that meeting too. However they don’t seem to have any links to Mossack Fonseca themselves, which suggests to me that they were there as advisors for the other firms ie. they were providing advice to those firms. Possibly the other firms engaged OliverShaw to act for them? But obviously, I can’t be sure about that. It just looks from the outside to be a possible explanation for why OliverShaw was there.

  4. mary_a 4

    This from Stuff … please note Ken Whitney is reported as being Key’s ‘FORMER” lawyer. Funny that, because recently FJK has been referring to Whitney as being “HIS” lawyer (in the present tense)!

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/79801529/panama-papers-keys-former-lawyer-has-further-mossack-fonseca-links

    • Jenny Kirk 4.1

      That was a quick chuck under the bus for Mr Whitney – yesterday he was Key’s lawyer, this morning he’s gone.
      Golly – if this wasn’t so serious, it would be farcical.

      • NZJester 4.1.1

        Well I guess calling him his former lawyer is correct as the guy willingly gave up his license to practice law in New Zealand. He has not been able to legally call himself a lawyer in this country for a while now. He has however been Key’s financial manager for a lot of that time after leaving the New Zealand legal profession however. We should be calling him Key’s Financial manager instead of Lawyer anyway.

    • left for dead 4.2

      Mary_a, I had too endure Paul henry the other day via a link here, that current PM said Whitney still acts for him, but needs another colleague too sign legal doc’s, the question I would have liked answered is why has the former lawyer given up his ticket “so to speak”

  5. Chuck 5

    So in breaking news… the people in a meeting to lobby against change to foreign trust laws just happened to be involved in the same industry!! And this is even a news story??

    Would you expect for example; Builder representative groups / companies to lobby for a change, and then send in the beekeepers association to lobby on their behalf?

    “Radio NZ and TVOne News have this morning revealed that four of the five companies represented in the meeting in which McClay dropped plans to regulate the industry had clear links to Mossack Fonseca at the time”

    • Te Reo Putake 5.1

      Have another coffee, Chuck. The news aspect is that the firms involved were all tied to tax haven firm Mossack Fonseca and the person who organised the meeting (and who claimed to be doing so on the PM’s behalf) is also linked to the same firm, despite the PM’s assurances that he had no such links.

      That’s dodgy, even for Key.

      • Pat 5.1.1

        +1
        …and even some of those Nat voters Winston was referring to yesterday will be able to see that.

  6. The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 6

    The Left uses Mossack Fonseca as they have used Crosby Textor. A link to either is evidence of criminality.

    But it isn’t.

    • Tricledrown 6.1

      Gormlesser.
      Scraping the bottom of the Barrel.
      Trying to cover the gaping pustial.
      Your all over the place.
      Crosby Textor talk just keep repeating the lies.
      101 CT for beginners.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 6.2

      The Prime Minister, that well know Commie.

      Prime Minister John Key said he sought an assurance from his lawyer that he was not linked to Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers scandal.

      Perhaps his political antenna is more finely tuned than yours or something.

    • Tricledrown 6.3

      Key is just like Berlusconi.with out the bunga bunga parties.
      The stench of corruption is growing louder.
      No comment today from Key to busy practicing his lies.
      Yesterday he couldn’t:t remember them so had to read from script.
      His comment about IRD openly disclosing these dodgy trusts was a lie.
      Foreign govts can only get access if they can identify the trust.
      This is Key enabling trusts to continue to get away with laundering.
      Key is Laundering the argument and is complicit in keeping this Tax haven running.
      Full disclosure of the companies and Directors to every country of who is holding trusts in NZ.
      Is the only way to stop this Tax Haven operating.

      • Lanthanide 6.3.1

        How does ‘stench’ grow ‘louder’?

        • Robert Guyton 6.3.1.1

          Colours can be loud – remember Rodney’s dancing blouse?
          The release of stench from a fetid swamp is a noisy process.

        • mac1 6.3.1.2

          “Synesthesia” accounts for how stenches grow louder. One in a thousand experience the phenomenon where the senses are cross-related as in hearing sound as colour. I have a painter friend who painted the opening of Beethoven’s symphony- the “Da da da daaaah” one- as she saw it. She was very alert to the tonal difference in an uilleann piper chanter notes, according to the pitch and the sound holes being used. No doubt she saw the difference as well as heard it.

          Aren’t we fascinating creatures in our diversity?

  7. Adrian 7

    As Whitney has been Keys ” lawyer” and trusted advisor for years and if as it appears his area of expertise is shuffling money around various tax avoidance ( evasion ? ) countries, entities and arrangements how the hell can Key not be bought to task and a serious investigation started.
    Any other country of a similiar structure and standing as ours would by now be instigating a demand for impeachment or at the least, resignation.

    • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 7.1

      Are you advocating that clients of a lawyer should be guilty of crimes the lawyer has committed? Odd proposition.

      • Adrian 7.1.1

        No particularily, but why else would you go to a lawyer you know to be involved in dodgy dealings unless you had need of those services.
        And don,t bullshit me that Key would not know what Whitney was doing, Key has got where he is by knowing everything he needs to know.
        He demands that you and I pay our full taxes but may not be applying the same rules to himself.
        I think he,s a crook.

        • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 7.1.1.1

          Do you, Adrian?

          • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 7.1.1.1.1

            You understand, I presume, that the allegation is that these structures were used to avoid tax in other jurisdictions, not NZ. As Mr Key is a NZ tax resident, I am not sure how he could avail himself of the services.

            • Richardrawshark 7.1.1.1.1.1

              FJK. he needs to go.

              simple stuff really.

              Parliamentary TV is going to be essential viewing at 2pm. Should be a good session.

            • One Anonymous Bloke 7.1.1.1.1.2

              These particular structures would be of no use to him, and in any case, by his own admission, he spent an entire weekend shredding documents, or something of that nature.

            • Adrian 7.1.1.1.1.3

              You really do have to be Gormless in the extreme to think that Whitney et al only facilitate tax schemes in one direction, such a lucrative business is surely working both ways, ie, for the Gormless, setting up similar arrangements for wealthy lNew Zealanders, in fact most even advertise the fact.
              What are you going to do for a job when the spigot is turned off.

              • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                Our tax laws are comprehensive. New Zealand residents pay income tax on their world wide income. There is no scope for using these schemes if you are resident in New Zealand. Mr Key is resident in New Zealand.

      • mac1 7.1.2

        “clients of a lawyer should be guilty of crimes the lawyer has committed”

        If the clients asked the lawyer to act on their behalf in an illegal way, yes. If they asked a lawyer to act on their behalf, but were careless in their dealings as to whether actions were illegal, probably.

        I’m surprised, but I’m no lawyer, that John Keys’ legal adviser was not legally pursued over this setting up of sham trusts, as described by Judge Wyllie. The legal adviser, this ‘highly ethical’ man according to his client, John Key, admitted that what he had done was not proper, the judge said so, too, and his defence was that it was normal practice.

        I’ve been thinking about these issues this morning, and I found myself wondering as to when civil society breaks down, if such normal practice is indeed normal- when adjudged bankrupts can circumvent restrictions placed upon them with the aid of lawyers, when ordinary Kiwis can take part in the NZ shadow economy wherein $7.4 billion in tax annually is evaded, when a Mayor of a provincial city can be so vilified by local citizens (including a visit by a brown-shirted racist) over issues of full representation and participation by Maori that he withdraws from seeking further office.

        Are we getting close to the Greek model where an economy and a society was very damaged by citizens who withdrew from cooperative and pro-social behaviour, because the society they lived in was so corrupted? These are not times salubrious to society and democracy.

        • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 7.1.2.1

          Actually, I suspect that that High Court decision may have been relevant in Whitney’s decision not to renew his practicing certificate. Just a hunch.

  8. NZJester 8

    Considering Key was one of those personally instrumental in helping set up Ireland as a tax haven in his time before he was recruited by the National Party to be their next Prime Minister, why are we shocked to find this country up to its neck in all this Panama Papers mess?

    It would be interesting to know if any of his former co-workers are involved in any of this also.

    Even while Prime Minister of New Zealand and supposed to be working for this country, it sounds like he has still been working in the interest of his former clients instead of this country.

    Look at all the debt he has also burdened us with.

    Robet Muldoon used to be considered New Zealand’s worst Prime Minster. John Key has taken that title away from him easily.

    Robert Muldoon at least in his own way cared for this country, something Key seams to be visibly lacking!

  9. UncookedSelachimorpha 9

    How much tax FJK pays, becomes ever more pertinent. I wonder what his own arrangements are. Given his position, it is a clear matter of public interest.

  10. Richardrawshark 10

    He was crowing in session today about only 200 odd registered foreign trusts.

    Someone should mention to him MF were the FOURTH largest company like that. This only involves that company, if there is 200 from that company how many more companies like MF have tax evasions happening.

    His excuses today are as expected, but a little digging behind his facts and words the sooner truth shows flaws in all his reasoning.

    Brian Edwards would have had him for breakfast, in a one on one.

    Where is Frost when you need him.

  11. Nick Morris 11

    John Key ducked RNZ Morning report but appeared at a press conference. Why? Because press conferences do not allow a question thread so you do not need a consistent justification. Things get a little tight? Take the next question from Home and Garden.

  12. Sandy Mulqueen 12

    This comes as no surprise to anyone who can hear the unquiet spirit of Alan Hubbard still calling out for justice. Listen to this interview (with Paul Carruthers) and you may hear it too.

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