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Panama papers: investors were advised how to avoid Government disclosure obligations

Written By: - Date published: 7:23 am, June 23rd, 2016 - 70 comments
Categories: john key, national, same old national, slippery - Tags:

Mossack Fonseka taxes are for poor people

Remember this from shortly after the Panama Papers scandal broke?

Speaking to reporters at his weekly press conference, Mr Key denied that the “Panama Papers” had embarrassed the Government or created a reputational risk.

New Zealand had a robust, legitimate tax regime which required foreigners to register their trusts, he said.

“Tax havens are where there’s non-disclosure of information. New Zealand has full disclosure of information.

New Zealand was a signatory to international tax treaties which allowed information exchange between jurisdictions, he said, and a review of New Zealand’s foreign trust rules by the OECD in 2013 gave New Zealand a “clear bill of health”.

Or how about this?

“If you’re looking for secrecy New Zealand is the wrong place to come.”

Well there may be full disclosure of information but not all countries are the recipient of this flow of information and the Prime Minister’s description may have been, how shall I put this, disingenuous.  And the obligation is to disclose information that is collected and it is clear that the collection process may not be pristine.

Radio New Zealand has revealed that Mossack Fonseca’s primary agent required clients to agree not to invest in countries that had an agreement to exchange information with New Zealand.

From the article:

Mossack Fonseca’s main New Zealand agent, Roger Thompson, drafted legal documents for his foreign clients instructing them to avoid countries that have information-sharing agreements with New Zealand, the Panama Papers show.

When Panama Paper stories first appeared, Prime Minister John Key denied New Zealand was a tax haven, saying the country “has full disclosure of information”.

“A tax haven is where you don’t declare information, you can’t get information, a locked box… We have information-sharing agreements or double-tax agreements with over 100 countries,” he said.

However, documents show the Mossack Fonseca agent specifically advised his clients to avoid countries with information-sharing agreements with New Zealand, presumably to side-step the disclosure system.

Get that?  NZ does have full disclosure of information obligations but only with some countries.  And, and this is the kicker, Mossack Fonseca’s local representative told clients to avoid investing in those countries.

Basically Key’s assurances were totally, utterly worthless.  There is an obligation to disclose information but only to some countries and MF’s agents were telling their clients not to invest there.

It is good to see that the media is continuing on this story.  And showing that what we are told by Key needs to be considered.  And analysed further.  And later reviewed.  Word by word.

70 comments on “Panama papers: investors were advised how to avoid Government disclosure obligations ”

  1. Greg 1

    Does it matter, a business that returns only 23 million to a few lawyers n accountants has already cost the tax payer 205 million in making these zero rated tax companies complaint with European money laundering laws,
    thats the real crime, or racketeering.

  2. Sorrwerdna 2

    Yawn. Another non issue pushed hard by the left

    • TC 2.1

      Yes that lefty media at it again

    • srylands 2.2

      There is no issue here. There is not a vote in this for the left. This isn’t barking at cars. It is barking at ghost cars.

      • TC 2.2.1

        Yes dear

      • framu 2.2.2

        so a trust scheme that allows the source and destination of money to be hard to ascertain is a-ok by you?

        not really surprised you feel that way

      • The New Student 2.2.3

        This is everybody’s problem, not just for those who may be “the left”.

        Well, everybody minus the 1%

      • Draco T Bastard 2.2.4

        And another right-wing supporter of criminals pops in to say that we shouldn’t get up in arms about these criminals stealing from us.

      • reason 2.2.5

        John shewan built a ‘vehicle’ that the aussie banks used to try and drive off with $2.2 Billion of New Zealand revenue……..

        shewans fraudulent product when found guilty by High court justice Wild resulted in the recovery of an amount equal to 100 years worth of what the welfare benefit fraud unit recovered. …..

        You’d have to barking mad, like our whale oil financial supporter and TS troll srylands, to not support going after Keys mates and all their ‘tax vehicles’ .

        Shake them and billions start falling out ……………

    • reason 2.3

      “Since the law changes in 2008 and the update in 2011 the number of foreign trusts has more than tripled to 10,697 this year from 3311 – according to Inland Revenue.”

      “Julie Anne Genter: Have there been any changes to the rules since the IRD warned his Government in 2013 that “there was a risk to New Zealand’s reputation” because of limited disclosure requirements?

      Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member would have to direct that question to the Minister responsible for inland revenue. They are the ones who have done all the work with the OECD on the base evasion programme. But, as we know, things like factor and anti – money-laundering legislation have been changing.

      Julie Anne Genter: I seek leave to table an email dated 24 March 2016 from the IRD that states that it has not progressed any reform in this area.”

  3. Don't worry. Be happy 3

    So a Prime Minister who tells slippery tales on behalf ot tax dodging crooks is a ‘yawn’ ? Looks more like being an accessory to a crime to me. Sorry, forgot, all this ‘accounting’ is legal. Like slavery used to be.

  4. Bearded Git 4

    Been adding to my list of Key u-turns; surely there are more?

    Mining in the National Parks
    Raising GST
    Tolls on Auckland roads
    Troops will stay only 2 years in Iraq
    No housing crisis so no need for Urban Development Agency
    NZ not a tax haven so no need to tighten disclosure rules (this coming soon)

  5. srylands 5

    Been adding to my list of Key u-turns; surely there are more?

    Mining in the National Parks
    Raising GST
    Tolls on Auckland roads
    Troops will stay only 2 years in Iraq
    No housing crisis so no need for Urban Development Agency
    NZ not a tax haven so no need to tighten disclosure rules (this coming soon)
    ______________

    I hope so. Here is my wish list for u turns:

    Raise New Zealand super age eligibility to 70.
    Impose 5 year life time maximums on welfare eligibility
    Sell remaining Crown shares in the Mixed Ownership Power cos
    Privatise Landcorp, Solid Energy and TVNZ
    Terminate New Zealand on Air
    Terminate RNZ
    Make all schools charter schools
    Increase GST to 17.5%
    Privatise all roads
    End all subsidies for Kiwi rail
    Appoint Commissioners to run Auckland City and establish a Crown owned Auckland urban development company with a 10 year life.
    Abolish all remaining customs duties
    Amend the RMA to abolish all urban zoning rules
    Re-introduce interest on student loans

    I could go on and on if you like.

    As for the principal topic, the Government always said it would review disclosure rules.

    • I Feel Love 5.1

      Oh please let them campaign on that!

    • vto 5.2

      Jeez, you’re a real extremist…

      I can’t believe there are still people like you out there who think the whole neoliberal philosophy works…
      … no such thing as society eh…

      loonie man looooooonie

      ..

      tell you what – if you take your looniness to the end conclusion and delete police and law services too then lets do it… see how long people like you last against the onslaught…lol

      • Anno1701 5.2.1

        “see how long people like you last against the onslaught…lol”

        i know right, people should be careful what they wish for….

        I mean you do realise those gate on your house really are just ornamental right ?

      • Halfcrown 5.2.2

        “tell you what – if you take your looniness to the end conclusion and delete police and law services too then lets do it… see how long people like you last against the onslaught…lol”

        No you have that wrong vto, In the Randian Paradise, the place this type of idiot has wet dreams over, the only law is the law of the jungle. However according to their Deity, the mentally deranged female Ayn Rand, the Police and law are the only two things that should be kept. It is obvious must have those to protect them from the peasants when they revolt.

    • AB 5.3

      Also privatise the body parts of beneficiaries, there is “good coin” to be made on that. After a trial period this could be extended to all non-National voters

    • framu 5.4

      “Privatise all roads”

      AHHH HA HA HA

      explain how that works – go on, prove it works, i dare you

      how does the fact that you can only fit one road in one space mesh with your consumer choice/rational economic actor cult?

      ie: if i dont like the roading provider who owns the road outside my house how do i switch?

    • framu 5.5

      NZ not a tax haven so no need to tighten disclosure rules – the Government always said it would review disclosure rules.

      logic fail there mate – why are you repeating the PMs dishonest misdirection?

    • McFlock 5.6

      You missed bringing back child labour, sweatshops, and repealing all workplace safety regulations. Just to complete your pseudoSomali desires.

    • Anno1701 5.7

      crazy f*#king libertarians

      you crack me up !

    • Halfcrown 5.8

      You have been reading too much Ayn Rand crap mate,

    • Draco T Bastard 5.9

      Yes, of course you could go on – you’re well known for wanting to impoverish the nation.

    • Macro 5.10

      Don’t forget to legalise the selling of grandmas

    • Halfcrown 5.11

      “Terminate RNZ”

      I bet you would comrade crylands. Can’t have the likes of that commie John Campbell as a thorn in the side of you cozy right wing fuck everybody world can we now.

    • tricldrown 5.12

      Srylands ACT party policy their support hovers around •6% that makes you a far right Looney.
      Political science 101 those on the political extreme have mental health issues.
      Everyone here already knows that.

    • tricldrown 5.13

      Srylands Don’t forget the big ones cut out all benefits .
      Cut all public funding to healthcare.
      Flat tax .
      Reinstate poor house.
      Take away vote from non land holders.

    • leftie 5.14

      Hey Srylands, you’re living in the wrong country mate, you should be living in North Korea.

  6. Sam C 6

    Nobody cares about this. Nobody. I saw Andrea Vance peddling something on the news last night that was so embarrassingly convoluted that even Bruce Sheppard looked confused by it, and he was part of the “expose”! RNZ, TVNZ and Nicky H have invested so much time, money and effort into chasing shadows on this non-story and are getting visibly annoyed that they can’t find any shit, let alone make it stick.

      • Sam C 6.1.1

        It was a massive non-event of a story though, wasn’t it?

        • joe90 6.1.1.1

          wasn’t it?

          Joao Procopio was keen because in NZ his scheme would enjoy complete secrecy but bailed when he discovered that the British end of the deal required full disclosure.

          But I suppose supporters of the money laundering schemes of criminals and corruption politicians think it was a massive non-event of a story.
          /

          • framu 6.1.1.1.1

            “But I suppose supporters of the money laundering schemes of criminals and corruption politicians think it was a massive non-event of a story.”

            and before anyone jumps in with the predictable response – it matters not if people did or didnt use off shore trusts in this way – but that our laws allow it to happen

        • Draco T Bastard 6.1.1.2

          No, it wasn’t. The general populace really are interested in finding out who’s stealing from them.

      • I Feel Love 6.1.2

        Found plenty of ‘shit’, & plenty of it ‘sticks’, I think you & your bosses are worried, though plenty of money in ‘spin’ clearly! Chop chop! (& I doubt Vance & Hager are ‘visibly worried’, that’s called ‘projection/looking in the mirror methinks). Thanks for the laugh though, it’s been a great morning!

  7. save nz 7

    We can tell it is a major problem for National just by the amount of trolls rushing to comment on this post saying ‘nothing to see here’.

    Panama papers, then drop in Nats polling.

    Guess what, business community don’t like offshore tax avoiders that they are supposedly ‘competing’ against, as it is not exactly a level playing field. They especially don’t like mechanisms for corruption being championed by government and government ‘lawyers who are not registered as lawyers’ and IRD being interfered with.

    Not really looking like NZ is a fair and corrupt free place to do business in.

    Our 0% tax haven status are attracting the criminals and the socially and morally bereft while making things harder for more honest business people.

  8. save nz 8

    BTW apparently Key’s security just left his Glock in the loo. Key doesn’t mind because he’s left strategic documents in cafes.

    This is he state of our country, people!

  9. Gangnam Style 9

    “Matthew Hooton’s public relations and lobbying firm, Exceltium, has clients in the legal services industry offering trust services to domestic and international clients.”

  10. ALZ 10

    How i asked does this government have the audacity to claim to be ethical and site evidence to support their claims. Like State Services Minister P Bennett .
    Here on Open Government.
    “We rank highly on several integrity measures, including first equal out of 182 countries in Transparency Internationals 2013 Corruptions Perceptions Index and first out of 132 countries in the 2014 Social Progress index. ”
    Source. The National Party
    https://national.org.nz/news/2014-10-31-new-zealand-reaffirms-commitment-to-open-government

    Social Progress Imperative sighted. ( A Washington NPO think tank, )
    http://www.socialprogressimperative.org/global-index/findings/

    Transparency Internationals 2013 Corruptions Perceptions Index ( still pre panama, and yes 100 points, “clean bill of health” J Key ..meanwhile NZ = globally known tax haven ranked 54th.) Wait is’nt that a blatant public lie ? Telling people only what you want them to hear, not “the facts”. Apparently not , we just call that politics, we cant be bothered holding them to account, or removing them. Its not apathy, it a form of mental shocked zombieism.
    https://www.transparency.org/country/#NZL_DataResearch

    Transparency Internationals NZ’s charter with the companies office says
    “Will not assist in investigating or exposing any member.”
    (Transparency !?)And you will notice being honest or truthful is not part of the code of conduct. This is how one can safely talk about the nations corruption issues, without having to let the public into the conversation or do anything about it for 15 years.
    We are signatories to these lofty “values” and “principles” please read the Jaw dropping list here.
    conduct. http://www.transparency.org.nz/Code-of-Conduct

    “Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) has been warning the government about weaknesses in corporate ownership and trust legislation for over fifteen years. ” Quote Letter to The current government.”
    !5 years plus of deliberate ignorance.
    http://www.transparency.org.nz/docs/2016//Panama-Papers-Media-Release.pdf

    How much longer can the show go on with out major reform, or reset of the field to level, new rules, new player attitudes, at the moment it look like jenga.

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