web analytics

Paradise lost

Written By: - Date published: 8:04 am, November 7th, 2017 - 19 comments
Categories: Economy, labour, tax - Tags: , ,

Another mass leak of a law firm’s private information has occurred.  And just like the Panama Papers the details are eye watering and show there are two classes of people on this planet, the uber rich and the rest of us.

From the Guardian:

The world’s biggest businesses, heads of state and global figures in politics, entertainment and sport who have sheltered their wealth in secretive tax havens are being revealed this week in a major new investigation into Britain’s offshore empires.

The details come from a leak of 13.4m files that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive – and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth.

The material, which has come from two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens, was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with partners including the Guardian, the BBC and the New York Times.

The project has been called the Paradise Papers. It reveals:

The video of Panorama trying to interview Lord Ashcroft would be very funny if the whole situation was not so sad.  Why do the really wealthy refuse to contribute to the collective good?  After all they have more than enough to spare.

Lord Ashcroft will be well known to Standard readers. He seemed to have a rather cosy relationship with John Key. In this most networked of worlds it is not surprising that people who want to trash the state in the United Kingdom so they and their friends can have even more wealth are friendly with and supportive of people who want to trash the state in New Zealand so they and their friends can have even more wealth.

He was a peer of the House of Lords but was a foreigner in terms of his tax status.  This meant that he only paid tax on UK earnings.  How patriotic.

Another controversial entity mentioned in the Papers is Serco.  But it appears that even law firms setting up structures to rob Sovereign Nations of tax have standards.  Again from the Guardian:

Serco first approached Appleby through a London law firm on 1 September 2015, asking for help to “establish a subsidiary in Mauritius to acquire 49% of a company in Abu Dhabi”.

It would later use the Mauritius company solely to facilitate part of a major sale of its business interests in the Middle East and India.

Serco has flatly denied that the structure was used to help it avoid tax, and the Guardian is not suggesting the company acted unlawfully in any way.

The request prompted a flurry of activity within the Appleby compliance arm. The team began running its standard checks on the risks Serco could pose as a client.

The results were less than convincing. Appleby’s compliance team found what they described as a “history of blunders and controversies surrounding many of its contracts”, including through its involvement in Obamacare and the running of prisons in Australia and New Zealand.

“It has a history of problems, failures, fatal errors and overcharging,” a senior Appleby compliance officer wrote.

And Bernie Sanders has warned that the world is rapidly becoming an international oligarchy which is controlled by a tiny number of billionaires.

I suspect that the shock and horror from this release will be more subdued from that caused by the Panama Papers.  Not because the sense of disgust was overplayed last time, but because this is become an increasingly apparent reality.

So what should progressives do?  We are up against some of the cleverest and most well resourced people on the planet.  But if we want sovereign nations to have a future then we have to sort this out.

And what is important?  Brave policies enacted by a progressive Government.

Tax reform is complex and the wealthy will throw everything they have at it in the hope of stopping or watering it down.  But the proposed tax review this Government will be setting up has just become even more important.

19 comments on “Paradise lost ”

  1. Carolyn_nth 1

    I think the NZ connections haven’t yet been discovered, and I believe some NZ journos are working on it – according to a Stuff editorial.

    Many of the documents are from the Asiaciti Trust Group, based in Samoa, but which has an office in Auckland.

    Asiaciti also made submissions to the government in 2014, to not tighten NZ regulations on overseas trusts, as some of us discussed yesterday on Open Mike

    PS: I have seen a screenshot on twitter of a document claiming Malcolm Turnbull (Oz PM) gets a mention in the Paradise Papers, but I can’t find a link to any article on it.

  2. RedLogix 2

    Imagine NZ had no nation scale government. Just the local councils we’re familiar with. On a day to day basis local govt provides the vast majority of ordinary services that make life civilised, rubbish, roads, water, libraries, parks, building regulations, parking, animal and pest control … on and on. For ordinary people, whose lives are located in one place at a time, this scale of governance suffices for most of our needs.

    But now, absent any governance on a national scale, how would all these small councils handle entities on a scale beyond their jurisdiction? Leaving aside obvious technical problems like providing national highways and transport, communications and the like … consider the problem of handling large companies that operate across multiple council districts. Consider individuals who make themselves resident in one town for tax purposes, but locate their assets in another which imposes little or no tax. Consider a company that rips off a client in Auckland, but is immune to redress because their offices are in Hamilton. Imagine how to deal with one town that pollutes for profit, and it’s neighbours who absorb the costs. And so on.

    Such a scenario strikes us as absurd; dealing with these issues is exactly why we have a nation state.

    But wait. If the entire human population of NZ was indeed just say, two small towns, imagine maybe Kaikohe and Gore. They were separated by days of travel, barely communicated and the few traders who operated between then did so on a basis of personal trust alone. Would we then need all the apparatus of a nation state? Well no, we would think it an absurd imposition, all of the citizens of Gore and Kaikohe would resist such a notion as a dangerous imposition on their identity and autonomy.

    But in the past 180 years or so the nation states of the planet have moved from comparative isolation and autonomy, to complete connectivity and dependence on each other. And when you look at the enormous progress in building the technical, commercial and legal infrastructures that support this massive global connectivity, an astounding amount of progress has been made. Especially since the end of WW2.

    But politically we remain stuck in nation state thinking; for the most part we regard the idea of global governance with the same suspicion as might the people of Gore and Kaikohe in the example above. In reality we are a now a single global society, but politically we cannot let go the delusions the nation state is the highest form and end point of our social evolution.

    And because we baulk at this last hurdle, the establishment of effective, democratically accountable global governance, we struggle to address virtually all the big problems we face.

    Somewhere I read a while back that just the cash hoarded in Caribbean tax havens alone, not including other assets, was enough to pay the debts of all the nation states on earth. Legal only because they lie beyond the reach of the nations, but are of course pure parasitical piracy on the high seas of global finance.

    • mickysavage 2.1

      Good comment.

      Sums it up well.

      The forces of globalism have leapt at the chance to dominate the new world order. And they are busy trying to prevent sovereign nations from uniting and exerting power. Think Brexit and the scorn thrown by the right at the United Nations.

      • RedLogix 2.1.1

        Exactly mickey. Just the confusion heaped on the word ‘globalist’ is enough to make me despair.

      • Sabine 2.1.2

        but at least these guys won’t need campaign contributions from big business and are thus not ‘owned and beholden’ to anyone. Right? right?

    • Consider a company that rips off a client in Auckland, but is immune to redress because their offices are in Hamilton. Imagine how to deal with one town that pollutes for profit, and it’s neighbours who absorb the costs. And so on.
      And we’re still having serious problems with that type of shit.

      And because we baulk at this last hurdle, the establishment of effective, democratically accountable global governance, we struggle to address virtually all the big problems we face.

      Take China’s territorial grab in the South China Sea for example. International law, that they’ve agreed to by belonging to the UN, makes such actions illegal. It was recognised that if anyone could go off and make an artificial island and claim it as territory it was going to have major impacts politically.

      When China’s actions was found illegal by the appropriate court China simply ignored it and the only way to stop them would be an all out war.

      This is where global governance will always have a problem. Stopping individuals committing crime is fairly easy for a community. It’s pretty much impossible for a group of nations to stop even a small one from doing what it likes because the only option available is war. Consider what would be needed to stop the US from doing whatever it likes.

      Perhaps a global government will arise but I don’t see it happening for a thousand years or more and after capitalism has finally been removed. Until then we’re going to act as nation states that encourage better global behaviour from all countries. Unfortunately, the way many of the global institutions are set up (the IMF, World Bank, WTO, etcetera) actually does the exact opposite to what’s needed as they encourage capitalism and competition.

      • RedLogix 2.2.1

        but I don’t see it happening for a thousand years or more and after capitalism has finally been removed.

        Perhaps the other way around. I see it happening within my lifetime. Already most of the pre-conditions and building blocks are in place. Once established it would quickly suppress the robber-baron form of capitalist piracy that you so rightly object to.

        In the end I believe it will happen, not so much because people of goodwill thought it a good idea … but from fear of the consequences of NOT doing so.

        • One Two

          Once established it would quickly suppress the robber-baron form of capitalist piracy that you so rightly object to

          Hello RL..

          What might replace the ‘robbery’?

          Those building blocks you refer to, look to be larger scale ‘robbery’ foundations…

          • RedLogix

            DtB and I have had many conversations about this one way or another. It’s my sense that markets will remain an enduring aspect of human life. But how those markets are organised, and what purposes they serve very much depends on the values and intentions of those of participate.

            I don’t have a neat, encapsulated answer for your question; but we know that the motives of greed, social status, and overt power are not the universal human experience. If you look there are many examples of people whose life has bent to other gentler, loftier goals … so we know people are capable of this.

            The trick is not so much the ‘good individual’, but the ‘good society’.

            • One Two

              Thank You, RL.

              Essentially a case of ‘good versus evil’…

              Hope must always be retained in the heart, IMO

              Sincere and genuine, hope

  3. patricia bremner 3

    John Key’s lawyer definitely got a mention.

    • Penny Bright 3.1

      Why was there no MSM coverage of the FACT that on 1 August 2017, at Rutherford House Victoria University, the (then) Chair of Transparency International, Jose Ugaz, stated that John Key should be investigated over the Panama Papers?

      I was present at that meeting, as were about 200 others.

      Why the silence, here in New Zealand, ‘perceived’ to be ‘the least corrupt country in the world’?

      Because investigating John Key over the Panama Papers would rip the scab off a 44 gallon drum of political ‘pus’, and help expose the NZ corruption REALITY?

      I think so.

      Penny Bright

      ‘Anti-corruption whistle-blower’.

  4. Why do the really wealthy refuse to contribute to the collective good?

    They got all that wealth by stealing. Sure, it was legal but it was still theft. You don’t think that they’re going to start paying their fair share now do you?

    The rich never pay for anything whereas the poor pay for everything including for the rich to be rich.

    Paradise Papers: Apple’s secret tax bolthole revealed

    Apple said the new structure had not lowered its taxes.

    It said it remained the world’s largest taxpayer, paying about $35bn (£26bn) in corporation tax over the past three years, that it had followed the law and its changes “did not reduce our tax payments in any country”.

    The point that Apple seems to be missing is that they didn’t increase the way that they should have.

  5. Darth smith 6

    At least there is no nact to act as a road block this time

  6. Darth smith 7

    It’s scandalous I will interesting to read the nz connection

  7. eco Maori/kiwi 9

    There you go John Keys only goal in OUR political system is to line his and his m8 pockets and this is the mentality of the national party . He still has the power in OUR country to manipulate thing so he can carry on lining his pockets.
    He is directly responsible for my situation giving the power to the authority’s to do what they want with no checks and balance’s so he could control everything. I felt a chill down my spine when I first seen him on TV. But I was to busy working my ass off thinking everyone would reward me for my hard work{ yea right} you are just a Maori is what my reward was 2 of the 3 company’s that shafted my whano and I come from bullshit land . Winston I’M next 1 he started mass migration 2 he attacked Maori mana by keeping our leaders out of the media 3 his 90 day employment clause there is much more for one to win in his system someone else has to lose .This does not have to be the way OUR Society works Kia kaha .

  8. Angel Fish 10

    Don’t talk about it in soft terms like, why won’t they contribute to the common good,
    speak of it as a fee that one must pay in order to live in respective nation.
    And really that’s what it is.
    It’s absurd to think that you get to live in a country for free.
    Also put pressure on consumers.
    Consumers aren’t helpless little children, they should have the integrity
    to punish companies like Apple by boycotting their products, until
    they remedy their fraudulent behaviour.

    Blame is to be shared in this case.

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

  • Twenty highlights of 2020
    As we welcome in the new year, our focus is on continuing to keep New Zealanders safe and moving forward with our economic recovery. There’s a lot to get on with, but before we say a final goodbye to 2020, here’s a quick look back at some of the milestones ...
    2 weeks ago

  • Cook Islanders to resume travel to New Zealand
    The Prime Minister of New Zealand Jacinda Ardern and the Prime Minister of the Cook Islands Mark Brown have announced passengers from the Cook Islands can resume quarantine-free travel into New Zealand from 21 January, enabling access to essential services such as health. “Following confirmation of the Cook Islands’ COVID ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 days ago
  • Supporting communities and landowners to grow employment opportunities
    Jobs for Nature funding is being made available to conservation groups and landowners to employ staff and contractors in a move aimed at boosting local biodiversity-focused projects, Conservation Minister Kiritapu Allan has announced. It is estimated some 400-plus jobs will be created with employment opportunities in ecology, restoration, trapping, ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Border exception for some returning international tertiary students
    The Government has approved an exception class for 1000 international tertiary students, degree level and above, who began their study in New Zealand but were caught offshore when border restrictions began. The exception will allow students to return to New Zealand in stages from April 2021. “Our top priority continues ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • Tiwai deal gives time for managed transition
    Today’s deal between Meridian and Rio Tinto for the Tiwai smelter to remain open another four years provides time for a managed transition for Southland. “The deal provides welcome certainty to the Southland community by protecting jobs and incomes as the region plans for the future. The Government is committed ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    3 days ago
  • New member for APEC Business Advisory Council
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has appointed Anna Curzon to the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC). The leader of each APEC economy appoints three private sector representatives to ABAC. ABAC provides advice to leaders annually on business priorities. “ABAC helps ensure that APEC’s work programme is informed by business community perspectives ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Govt’s careful economic management recognised
    The Government’s prudent fiscal management and strong policy programme in the face of the COVID-19 global pandemic have been acknowledged by the credit rating agency Fitch. Fitch has today affirmed New Zealand’s local currency rating at AA+ with a stable outlook and foreign currency rating at AA with a positive ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    4 days ago
  • Additional actions to keep COVID-19 out of NZ
    The Government is putting in place a suite of additional actions to protect New Zealand from COVID-19, including new emerging variants, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said today. “Given the high rates of infection in many countries and evidence of the global spread of more transmissible variants, it’s clear that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    5 days ago
  • 19 projects will clean up and protect waterways
    $36 million of Government funding alongside councils and others for 19 projects Investment will clean up and protect waterways and create local jobs Boots on the ground expected in Q2 of 2021 Funding part of the Jobs for Nature policy package A package of 19 projects will help clean up ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • New Zealand Government acknowledges 175th anniversary of Battle of Ruapekapeka
    The commemoration of the 175th anniversary of the Battle of Ruapekapeka represents an opportunity for all New Zealanders to reflect on the role these conflicts have had in creating our modern nation, says Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Kiri Allan. “The Battle at Te Ruapekapeka Pā, which took ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    1 week ago
  • Better care for babies with tongue-tie
    Babies born with tongue-tie will be assessed and treated consistently under new guidelines released by the Ministry of Health, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall announced today. Around 5% to 10% of babies are born with a tongue-tie, or ankyloglossia, in New Zealand each year. At least half can ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison over
    The prisoner disorder event at Waikeria Prison is over, with all remaining prisoners now safely and securely detained, Corrections Minister Kelvin Davis says. The majority of those involved in the event are members of the Mongols and Comancheros. Five of the men are deportees from Australia, with three subject to ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 test for travellers from the UK and the US from 15 January
    Travellers from the United Kingdom or the United States bound for New Zealand will be required to get a negative test result for COVID-19 before departing, and work is underway to extend the requirement to other long haul flights to New Zealand, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins confirmed today. “The new PCR test requirement, foreshadowed last ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • PM congratulates New Year Honour recipients
    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has added her warm congratulations to the New Zealanders recognised for their contributions to their communities and the country in the New Year 2021 Honours List. “The past year has been one that few of us could have imagined. In spite of all the things that ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • David Parker congratulates New Year 2021 Honours recipients
    Attorney-General and Minister for the Environment David Parker has congratulated two retired judges who have had their contributions to the country and their communities recognised in the New Year 2021 Honours list. The Hon Tony Randerson QC has been appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • New Year’s Honours highlights outstanding Pacific leadership through challenging year
    Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the New Year’s Honours List 2021 highlights again the outstanding contribution made by Pacific people across Aotearoa. “We are acknowledging the work of 13 Pacific leaders in the New Year’s Honours, representing a number of sectors including health, education, community, sports, the ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago
  • Supporting seniors to embrace technology
    The Government’s investment in digital literacy training for seniors has led to more than 250 people participating so far, helping them stay connected. “COVID-19 has meant older New Zealanders are showing more interest in learning how to use technology like Zoom and Skype so they can to keep in touch ...
    BeehiveBy beehive.govt.nz
    2 weeks ago