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.