Panama Papers 'whistleblower' issues statement, hits out at NZ Prime Minister John Key over Cook Islands; Says income inequality one of the defining issues of our time

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has released a statement from the anonymous person who obtained and leaked the so-called Panama Papers from law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Described as a whistleblower, the source of the Panama Papers singles out New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key saying; "Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand has been curiously quiet about his country’s role in enabling the financial fraud Mecca that is the Cook Islands." Niue also gets a mention.

In response Key said the source of the Panama Papers was either confused or looking at historical information as he has no control over Cook Islands tax. However, Labour Party leader Andrew Little said Key was wrong to claim New Zealand had no responsibility for the Cook Islands. Little also said Labour would look at doing away with foreign trusts if it was in power. There's more from TVNZ here.

And Key also says the IRD will be looking into all of the 11.5 million documents obtained from Mossack Fonseca after the ICIJ publicly releases them, Newshub reports, which is expected to be about 6am Tuesday, NZ time.

Here's the ICIJ's statement

The anonymous whistleblower behind the Panama Papers has conditionally offered to make the documents available to government authorities. 

In a statement issued to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the so-called “John Doe” behind the biggest information leak in history cites the need for better whistleblower protection and has hinted at even more revelations to come.

Titled “The Revolution Will Be Digitized” the 1800-word statement gives justification for the leak, saying that “income inequality is one of the defining issues of our time” and says that government authorities need to do more to address it. 

Süddeutsche Zeitung has authenticated that the statement came from the Panama Papers source:

 And here's the statement from the whistleblower issued by the ICIJ in full: 

The Revolution Will Be Digitized 

John Doe 

Income inequality is one of the defining issues of our time. It affects all of us, the world over. The debate over its sudden acceleration has raged for years, with politicians, academics and activists alike helpless to stop its steady growth despite countless speeches, statistical analyses, a few meagre protests, and the occasional documentary. Still, questions remain: why? And why now? 

The Panama Papers provide a compelling answer to these questions: massive, pervasive corruption. And it’s not a coincidence that the answer comes from a law firm. More than just a cog in the machine of “wealth management,” Mossack Fonseca used its influence to write and bend laws worldwide to favour the interests of criminals over a period of decades. In the case of the island of Niue, the firm essentially ran a tax haven from start to finish. Ramón Fonseca and Jürgen Mossack would have us believe that their firm’s shell companies, sometimes called “special purpose vehicles,” are just like cars. But used car salesmen don’t write laws. And the only “special purpose” of the vehicles they produced was too often fraud, on a grand scale. 

Shell companies are often associated with the crime of tax evasion, but the Panama Papers show beyond a shadow of a doubt that although shell companies are not illegal by definition, they are used to carry out a wide array of serious crimes that go beyond evading taxes. I decided to expose Mossack Fonseca because I thought its founders, employees and clients should have to answer for their roles in these crimes, only some of which have come to light thus far. It will take years, possibly decades, for the full extent of the firm’s sordid acts to become known. 

In the meantime, a new global debate has started, which is encouraging. Unlike the polite rhetoric of yesteryear that carefully omitted any suggestion of wrongdoing by the elite, this debate focuses directly on what matters. 

In that regard, I have a few thoughts.  

For the record, I do not work for any government or intelligence agency, directly or as a contractor, and I never have. My viewpoint is entirely my own, as was my decision to share the documents with Süddeutsche Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), not for any specific political purpose, but simply because I understood enough about their contents to realize the scale of the injustices they described.

The prevailing media narrative thus far has focused on the scandal of what is legal and allowed in this system. What is allowed is indeed scandalous and must be changed. But we must not lose sight of another important fact: the law firm, its founders, and employees actually did knowingly violate myriad laws worldwide, repeatedly. Publicly they plead ignorance, but the documents show detailed knowledge and deliberate wrongdoing. At the very least we already know that Mossack personally perjured himself before a federal court in Nevada, and we also know that his information technology staff attempted to cover up the underlying lies. They should all be prosecuted accordingly with no special treatment.

In the end, thousands of prosecutions could stem from the Panama Papers, if only law enforcement could access and evaluate the actual documents. ICIJ and its partner publications have rightly stated that they will not provide them to law enforcement agencies. I, however, would be willing to cooperate with law enforcement to the extent that I am able. 

That being said, I have watched as one after another, whistleblowers and activists in the United States and Europe have had their lives destroyed by the circumstances they find themselves in after shining a light on obvious wrongdoing. Edward Snowden is stranded in Moscow, exiled due to the Obama administration’s decision to prosecute him under the Espionage Act. For his revelations about the NSA, he deserves a hero’s welcome and a substantial prize, not banishment. Bradley Birkenfeld was awarded millions for his information concerning Swiss bank UBS—and was still given a prison sentence by the Justice Department. Antoine Deltour is presently on trial for providing journalists with information about how Luxembourg granted secret “sweetheart” tax deals to multi-national corporations, effectively stealing billions in tax revenues from its neighbour countries. And there are plenty more examples. 

Legitimate whistleblowers who expose unquestionable wrongdoing, whether insiders or outsiders, deserve immunity from government retribution, full stop. Until governments codify legal protections for whistleblowers into law, enforcement agencies will simply have to depend on their own resources or on-going global media coverage for documents. 

In the meantime, I call on the European Commission, the British Parliament, the United States Congress, and all nations to take swift action not only to protect whistleblowers, but to put an end to the global abuse of corporate registers. In the European Union, every member state’s corporate register should be freely accessible, with detailed data plainly available on ultimate beneficial owners. The United Kingdom can be proud of its domestic initiatives thus far, but it still has a vital role to play by ending financial secrecy on its various island territories, which are unquestionably the cornerstone of institutional corruption worldwide. And the United States can clearly no longer trust its fifty states to make sound decisions about their own corporate data. It is long past time for Congress to step in and force transparency by setting standards for disclosure and public access. 

And while it’s one thing to extol the virtues of government transparency at summits and in sound bites, it’s quite another to actually implement it. It is an open secret that in the United States, elected representatives spend the majority of their time fundraising. Tax evasion cannot possibly be fixed while elected officials are pleading for money from the very elites who have the strongest incentives to avoid taxes relative to any other segment of the population. These unsavoury political practices have come full circle and they are irreconcilable. Reform of America’s broken campaign finance system cannot wait. 

Of course, those are hardly the only issues that need fixing. Prime Minister John Key of New Zealand has been curiously quiet about his country’s role in enabling the financial fraud Mecca that is the Cook Islands. In Britain, the Tories have been shameless about concealing their own practices involving offshore companies, while Jennifer Shasky Calvery, the director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network at the United States Treasury, just announced her resignation to work instead for HSBC, one of the most notorious banks on the planet (not coincidentally headquartered in London). And so the familiar swish of America’s revolving door echoes amidst deafening global silence from thousands of yet-to-be-discovered ultimate beneficial owners who are likely praying that her replacement is equally spineless. In the face of political cowardice, it’s tempting to yield to defeatism, to argue that the status quo remains fundamentally unchanged, while the Panama Papers are, if nothing else, a glaring symptom of our society’s progressively diseased and decaying moral fabric. 

But the issue is finally on the table, and that change takes time is no surprise. For fifty years, executive, legislative, and judicial branches around the globe have utterly failed to address the metastasizing tax havens spotting Earth’s surface. Even today, Panama says it wants to be known for more than papers, but its government has conveniently examined only one of the horses on its offshore merry-go-round. 

Banks, financial regulators and tax authorities have failed. Decisions have been made that have spared the wealthy while focusing instead on reining in middle- and low-income citizens.

Hopelessly backward and inefficient courts have failed. Judges have too often acquiesced to the arguments of the rich, whose lawyers—and not just Mossack Fonseca—are well trained in honouring the letter of the law, while simultaneously doing everything in their power to desecrate its spirit. The media has failed. Many news networks are cartoonish parodies of their former selves, individual billionaires appear to have taken up newspaper ownership as a hobby, limiting coverage of serious matters concerning the wealthy, and serious investigative journalists lack funding. The impact is real: in addition to Süddeutsche Zeitung and ICIJ, and despite explicit claims to the contrary, several major media outlets did have editors review documents from the Panama Papers. They chose not to cover them. The sad truth is that among the most prominent and capable media organizations in the world there was not a single one interested in reporting on the story. Even Wikileaks didn’t answer its tip line repeatedly. 

But most of all, the legal profession has failed. Democratic governance depends upon responsible individuals throughout the entire system who understand and uphold the law, not who understand and exploit it. On average, lawyers have become so deeply corrupt that it is imperative for major changes in the profession to take place, far beyond the meek proposals already on the table. To start, the term “legal ethics,” upon which codes of conduct and licensure are nominally based, has become an oxymoron. Mossack Fonseca did not work in a vacuum—despite repeated fines and documented regulatory violations, it found allies and clients at major law firms in virtually every nation. If the industry’s shattered economics were not already evidence enough, there is now no denying that lawyers can no longer be permitted to regulate one another. It simply doesn’t work. Those able to pay the most can always find a lawyer to serve their ends, whether that lawyer is at Mossack Fonseca or another firm of which we remain unaware. What about the rest of society? 

The collective impact of these failures has been a complete erosion of ethical standards, ultimately leading to a novel system we still call Capitalism, but which is tantamount to economic slavery. In this system—our system—the slaves are unaware both of their status and of their masters, who exist in a world apart where the intangible shackles are carefully hidden amongst reams of unreachable legalese. The horrific magnitude of detriment to the world should shock us all awake. But when it takes a whistleblower to sound the alarm, it is cause for even greater concern. It signals that democracy’s checks and balances have all failed, that the breakdown is systemic, and that severe instability could be just around the corner. So now is the time for real action, and that starts with asking questions.

Historians can easily recount how issues involving taxation and imbalances of power have led to revolutions in ages past. Then, military might was necessary to subjugate peoples, whereas now, curtailing information access is just as effective or more so, since the act is often invisible. Yet we live in a time of inexpensive, limitless digital storage and fast internet connections that transcend national boundaries. It doesn’t take much to connect the dots: from start to finish, inception to global media distribution, the next revolution will be digitized. 

Or perhaps it has already begun.

We welcome your help to improve our coverage of this issue. Any examples or experiences to relate? Any links to other news, data or research to shed more light on this? Any insight or views on what might happen next or what should happen next? Any errors to correct?

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142 Comments

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Oh, is that why Key is shedding crocodile tears over so-called refugees and wants to bring more in to the detriment of a society already stricken with wide spread child poverty and 3rd world living conditions? To cheapy deflect attention of the politically correct media mafia from his Crook Island deals?

Dishonest John has outlived his welcome. I want to see him in court.

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John Key for prison 2016

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Thats awkward... But the Key steps now are to... Discredit the conclusions or review and marginalize the issue, blame previous Govt, then repeat after me "i am sure most New Zealanders would agree that this is a fantastic problem to have"

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Thank you for having the courage to publish this. I will be watching possible future events with much interest.

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So his next step will be to claim he hasn't read it then wander off, confident that idiot sycophants will take that as if it's a real answer.

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So here's the reason for this new cyber crime thingy the admirable prime minister setup. To cover up whistle blowers by making them criminals in the eyes of the plebs. As if JK knew it was coming. I mean of course he knew

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And who highlighted for us some decades ago the absolute rort and tax corruption going on through the Cook Islands? Good old Winston Peters who more than likely will be getting my vote next year. It's over for JK. Time to cancel his passports and bring him in for questioning SIS.

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Been a Winston Peters supporter since 2014 when National campaigned on keeping the status quo.

The Paradise Conspiracy by Ian Wishart is a very good read. You can rely on Wishart to be detailed and accurate, even if at the expense of readibility.

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What do we expect when we elect someone who used to work for Merril Lynch?

And the US Federal Reserve, another bunch of totally honest folks.

Everyone has to work somewhere. Would you prefer the PM of this country previous job experience was being a till jockey at the wharehouse?

Is that a spelling errore?
Do you mean the whorehouse?

Yes it was a spelling 'errore'. As you put it.
The Warehouse.

He has shown a lack of loyalty to NZ before in his job executing orders on
the NZD & concerned the RBNZ before, by association with his mate: (also has had memory problems back in 2008!)
"says he does not believe a moral issue arises for the traders who make these speculative attacks on currencies, or for the dealing rooms that carry out their orders. "I don't really see it as a judgemental business. You're simply executing orders for people.
"I can't remember whether Andy Krieger was buying or selling, it might have been selling with me, but at the time it would have reflected the economic fundamentals at play in New Zealand. The markets are ultimately too large for any one individual to manipulate.".
http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/features/249633/Who-is-John-Key

You would hope that our politicians have had a previous career with an organisation that produces worthwhile goods or services that benefit humanity. The culture of Merrill Lynch Currency Trading is at best amoral.

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BTW thanks INTEREST for publishing this. Nothing on the Herald and a short hidden article on stuff that doesn't even mention JK on it. Really????????

agree Ian...we are seeing some of the best journalism in NZ right here on interest...if not the best when it comes to financial matters

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Looks like the rest of the world is waking up to the slime minister.

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I see TV3 are onto it, now his buddy is not in charge they can go after him.
it will be interesting over the next week when talking to JK disciples how they spin this as to be a nothing story or nothing to do with him

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ANZ appears in 7548 of the Mossack documents, reflecting the bank's extensive work in New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Samoa and Jersey .

Go to the bottom of this article and click on Australian links
http://www.afr.com/news/politics/world/the-panama-papers-behind-mossack-...

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interesting how the Australian press have been given access to the papers but the NZ press were not, maybe those overseas see them as not trustworthy or biased

As was explained to me in Aus a decade ago the NZ press are not independent, they are captive becaus e the market for journo's is to small .
Their careers rely on staying on side with the politicians.
So forget the independant press...
And there is the liqour barrons..

John A Lee...Children of the Poor

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"Shell companies are often associated with the crime of tax evasion, but the Panama Papers show beyond a shadow of a doubt that although shell companies are not illegal by definition, they are used to carry out a wide array of criminal activity."
And the Prime Minister of NZ is supportive of this activity and defending the players and the nature of the activity.

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time to finally resign ? will this mud stick or will he shake it off and blame labour ?

How many things can he get away with before enough is enough ?

Can someone obviously more intelligent than me please explain to me in simple terms,what it is that John Key has allegedly done

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Being a PM with no moral compass allows him to make laws (or not change laws when he should) that benefit the rich few 'global elite' at the expense of the many ordinary kiwis here in NZ and ordinary hardworking folk in other countries.

He is also trashing NZ's hard earned reputation for honesty and fairness.

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@ ngakonui gold: Probably the tip of the iceberg but here you go: "Tax Haven" structures risk damage to New Zealanders’ well being.

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) has been warning the government about weaknesses in corporate ownership and trust legislation for over fifteen years.

These loopholes allow people to hide money gained through crime and/or money laundering using Trusts registered in New Zealand.

According to The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) who analysed the document trove, Mossack Fonseca’s services have been used to "facilitate massive money laundering, tax avoidance and criminal activity, including drugs and arms dealing". New Zealand is named by the ICIJ as a "tax haven" used by Mossack Fonseca. According to reports, New Zealand is mentioned over 60,000 times in the documents.

http://www.transparency.org.nz/docs/2016//Panama-Papers-Media-Release.pdf

And we wonder why Auckland property market has been running out of control? Could some of it be to do with money laundering!?? Little old NZ, I think the rest of the world seem to think that we're largely populated by sheep and fair game for economic slavery.

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Also if you go back you can find the PM was a massive supporter of the trust industry and wanted in his words NZ to become the Switzerland of the South Pacific.

If they have been warning NZ for 15 years then surely the CLARK Govt should have been mentioned.
You can imagine all the Labour party going on the attack next week conveniently forgetting that people like Cunllffe,Goff and Parker must be part of it also.

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correct labour set it up and did not put the checks in place to make sure they are not used to cover criminal activity or hiding of funds. BUT that does not excuse the current government as they have known about and warned about it, and guess what they have done in nine years of power nothing, and in that they are just as complicit as those that are running them for illegal activities in their home countries

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But the thing our MSmedia has glossed over very dishonestly is that Key was the one that pushed hard for these trusts to be taxed at 0%, before that they were somewhere like 28%, so it could never have been a tax haven at that rate, that was the major change that opened the flood gates.

Ngakonui gold, my guess is that the PM probably didn't do anything wrong personally (tho' in a political sense some mud is starting to stick just from the noise), and any 'fault' lies in not addressing a glaringly obvious and serious issue. Likewise, depending on one's view of how democracy works, 'fault' might lie with the opposition parties too, for missing the point as well, fixated that everything's about John Key, so they haven't forced him to focus on the real issue. Thus far, we've just had vast amounts of rather pointless 'noise'.

The issue, it seems to me, is that NZ's offshore trusts have been designed (probably inadvertently) in such a way that, whilst useful for legitimate transactions, they are also almost the perfect vehicle for enabling and facilitating crime.

Nor did he set it up, so no 'fault' there. Ditto probably no 'fault' Labour back in the day either, they probably had no idea how it could be used badly.

Yet it seems that political parties of all stripes are rather missing the ball as the opposition play the man and the government plays the opposition. The ball is sitting forlorn on the sideline.

If the PM had a look at the ball itself, and asked, do we really want to facilitate criminality on an industrial scale, there are some policy options that could turn off the criminality.

Likewise it seems both sides of the political divide seem to think there are vast sums of money in NZ, some legitimate and some illicit. Andrew Little's statement a few days ago railed against the criminal funds seemingly sitting here. And the implicit undercurrent from the government (and some express statements a while back) seem to indicate a viewpoint that any investment into NZ is good.

First, it's not. There's research on that. Simply put, any investment by say Mexican cartels in Auckland houses benefits only the Mexican cartel, not NZ.

Second, and probably more importantly, the narrative of both main parties is probably almost completely wrong, as many contributers here know. It is far more likely that the vast majority of illicit funds will have never been in NZ, and never will be.

The NZ offshore trust vehicle is not akin to a criminal bank account. It is instead an almost perfectly designed criminal getaway vehicle. To use the cartel example again, their profits are generated from say US drug sales, they'll want some in pesos to build mansions and buy guns, and they'll invest the rest in say NYC, Miami, Vancouver, London housing, art, gold, T-bills, etc. The owners of those assets may be listed as Delaware, Nevada, Wyoming LLC's, with a web of opaque trusts, foundations and shell companies in Belize, Seychelles and New Zealand. All with other companies/trusts listed as shareholders/directors, and some with lawyers/accountants as nominees. And a web with so many break points between those jurisdictions, as almost impossible to trace. NZ offshore trusts are almost perfectly designed to facilitate this, yet not a cent will be here. Unlike the legitimate use, in which case the funds sometimes may be here. For the illegitimate use, apart maybe from the occasional random drive-by purchase of 64 Auckland houses one month, none of the 'investment' will ever be here. And all NZ gets for sheltering the world's criminals is a few million dollars paid to lawyers and accountants to set them up.

The issue then is why NZ permits it? Why not apply a criminal immobiliser so it can no longer be used as a getaway car and remains a sedate vehicle for legitimate use only?

That's the question for the government, it seems to me. And for the opposition parties equally, if they decided to focus on the core issue rather than what is mostly sideshow stuff as it seems they can't quite get their heads around that it's not necessarily about John Key himself. (Although the noise has kicked up a couple of bad look miscalls and inconsistencies, which in a political sense they may rightly claim as victories, yet the issues themselves remain almost completely ignored).

More detail for anyone interested, in the Listener a few days ago, at http://www.listener.co.nz/current-affairs/money/opinion-whats-blocking-effective-policy-debate-about-new-zealands-foreign-trusts-regime/

We are all responsible for our ACTS and our OMISSIONS in criminal law. It is as bad as it looks and it only going to get worse.

It is probably more what he failed to do that what he did...

and defending those associated with him as doing nothing wrong in HIS eyes.
its the same as HC and the speeding tickets or the paintings, a little bit of wrongdoing never hurt as long as I get what I want or need

I have reread the statement and it appears to me to be more of an opinion piece rather than presenting any facts or actually presenting evidence of any wrongdoing by John Key.
I stand to be corrected

Opinions of journalists are apparently facts these days. This place is beginning to make The Standard look right wing......

when you have journalists from all over the world and some of the best investigation journalists digging and uncovering the lies and webs you take notice. notice NZ journalists as well ones from the Tax haven countries were left out as they maybe tainted

So why would "some of the best investigative journalists" think that the PM of NZ should be responsible for the governance of the Cook Islands ?

Because in effect he is due to influence. ie NZ hands over $6m? plus per year so I'd be surprised if he isnt listened to.

To be fair to the journalists, the reference to John Key is in the letter from the 'John Doe' who initially leaked the papers, not from any of the journalists, they like Interest are just reporting it.

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While we are on the subject... who is sick of his god awful tea towel at the top of the page?

This chrome plugin will fix it and the caption. It will also prevent double posts on the forum. Enjoy.

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/interestconz-enhancements/ljpg...

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I'm starting to see what's the underlying design idea in that godawful thing. It shows the Silver Fern (symbolising NZ's egalitarian past) being swept aside by the black tide of corruption which is engulfing NZ.

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Excellent!

Well said.

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Birds of a Feather flock together

This is being overlooked in the hurly-burly of the 24 hour news cycle

In 2009 Ken Whitney was instrumental in knowingly setting up a sham trust for and on behalf of a bankrupt. The presiding judge, Judge Ed Wylie slammed Whitney for his role and dishonesty and aiding and abetting money laundering. Including lying to the Official Assignee. During the case Whitney declared this fraudulent activity was common in legal circles.

In 2014 Whitney "resigned" his legal registration with the NZ Law Society. He is no longer a practising lawyer

The Law Society do not appear to have taken any action against Whitney for bringing the Society into disrepute. Most self-regulating professional bodies would have charged him, fined him and disbarred him, and sent him into oblivion and disgrace

John Key maintains his relationship with Whitney as his "personal ethical lawyer"

It appears Key is not aware of Whitney's abandoned legal status

It's the protective silence that gets me

http://m.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=11633406

Not being a lawyer. Does one still have client lawyer privileged communications. (This a reason some would use a lawyer rather than an accountant for advanced tax management).

@Henry_Tull. No legal professional privilege when not practicing as a lawyer.

On TV3 news tonight John Key referred to Ken Whitney as his "former lawyer"!
I wonder what he knows that we don't...

Sounds like Key is trying to distance himself from Whitney......

I wonder how much damage the Panama Papers and the seemingly out of touch comments by the National party are doing to Nationals image. I guess the polls will tell in time.

While the MSM keeps covering for him nowhere near as much as it should do.
He should be on the ropes by now, but the media in NZ is so favorable to him, even things like this seem to hardly make a dent.
NZ is in serious trouble, it's a not a free thinking country anymore, it's dominated by propaganda like media.

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There is a big story yet to come about Whitney I think. No lawyer in his trade willingly gives up a registration. Was he 'encouraged'. How and why ?

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Would suggest he was given a deal - jump and go quietly or get pushed noisily

The Panama Papers are still in the early days. There will be a lot more stories to come with the volume of data.

Yes, early days, provided (a) there is the fortitude to focus on the real issues (by politicians and mainstream media), (b) the media genuinely understand why there may not be the trove of instantly reportable material in the next tranche, and (c) enforcement authorities are keen and adequately resourced for the long haul. 

I haven't yet seen much of (a), and (b) seems tenuous at best, so irrespective of (c), if (a) and (b) are AWOL, the dominant narrative could turn.

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Interesting when JK came into power labour rushed off to Aussie because they had heard a of some of his dealings and the way he did things were not kosher. It backfired on them maybe they were right but just looking in the wrong place. When this broke he spent the whole weekend on the phone making sure he had no links to the firm in question that alone raised suspicionsFor me, Why?
Have you ever wondered where his funds are stashed and who he pays tax to?
He has told us he donates a portion of PM wage to charity nice, but will not release his tax records if he is so generous why not? or maybe he is structured in such a way he pays no tax or very little tax at all.

Too much smells about this guy he is not the upfront straight shooter we all thought when he arrived on the scene

he never once said he was going to donate his salary. he said he may donate a portion. Stop spreading this narrative.

That appears to be just a type of PR deception, Sean Plunket tried his hardest to find out about the "most" of his salary claim, and came to the conclusion it was more of a urban myth, https://www.facebook.com/SeanPlunketRadioLive/posts/818434368208109
"So I promised to find out about john keys 400 k plus salary and how much of it goes to charity. After talking to a person from his office here is the best info I can get. His pay goes into his bank account. He does give money to charity but doesn't keep detailed records of how much. He doesn't want to say what charities or provide a ballpark figure of what proportion of his pm pay he gives. In other words the oft claimed fact that john key gives most of, or all of his salary to charity has no basis in fact. Urban myth!!!"

There are a lot of NZ lawyers who have given up their practicing certificate as they simply do not want to practice either in a firm or by themselves. One immediate benefit is you are not paying the annual fees and contributing to the Fidelity Fund. You will find them in public and private companies, working as consultants and in government departments. They have simply decided that practice is not for them. They no longer have to have a trust account and all the attached bureaucracy of a firm. They are also no longer controlled by the Law Society. A lot of them will be making a lot more money than most lawyers other than senior partners in the big firms and top QC'S and barristers.

With not trust account, why would we leave funds "on deposit" with you?

Nice how the article mentions how the United Kingdom is taking a stand against corruption. So what is our illustrious leader doing to stamp out corruption here apart for simplifying (censuring) the IRD property purchasing data that sill hasn't been released to the public yet??

Here's what the UK is doing to tackle curruption: Ending the UK’s role as a safe haven for corrupt individuals, their allies and assets.
http://www.transparency.org.uk/publications/paradise-lost/

And here is another interesting article that will touch a nerve for most Kiwi's: Corruption On Your Doorstep: How Corrupt Capital Is Used to Buy Property in the UK

http://www.transparency.org.uk/publications/corruption-on-your-doorstep/

I'd love to know how much of that goes on here!! Me thinks it's quite a bit looking at our glaring out of control Auckland property market!

Firstly this information gets released to Germany....Really!...anonymous!......who would benefit the most? The fact that PM Key seems to be getting singled out on the world platform is very curious..... Gosh some of this sounds like the revenge of the German sausage!!

The Revolution will be digitalised...really by whom? this new breed of social anarchists are dangerous and manipulative....they quote income inequality and promote UBI while the hidden agenda is input inequality....wake the heck up MSM and don't allow further erosion of the people's constitutional rights by hardcore communists posing as good guys!

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ah gottya. it's all kim.com idea. all good then, we're as clean as our rivers

Don't you go worrying there Ian64 the next big flood down the river will wash all the muck out!

Agree notaneconomist.
Something smells here and it isn't John Key.
Looks like something from last elections lefty play book.
i.e labour/greens bang on about inequality/UBI
stolen Panama papers ..redacted ..then 1800 page missif with the only world leader named is JK.No evidence mind..just mud throwing..blaming him for all manner of ills...
helped unquestionably by the MSM who are drip feeling "revelations"(they want a close election for ratings)
it has the hallmarks for another Nicky Hager book exposing all just before the next election..
It didn't work last time but you can at least give the commies points for trying

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Nationals data analytics team are now responding to the interest.co.nz feed.
Now we have the opinion modification team into gear.

The only "playbook" is the truth.

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This project has been going for a number of years
When the first announcement was made last month they explained why the number of investigative journalists involved was restricted to "reliable" journalists who could be trusted not to blow the whistle on what was going on. None were selected from NZ. A couple from Australia. Neil Chenowith from the AFR was one. They get first dig at it. NZ is totally reliant on overseas investigators for these revelations. They have done all the work for us. Not one NZ based investigator has ever gone into this stuff with perhaps the exception of Gareth Vaughan

I have been wondering as I read through all this if a hatchet job has been done on JK. It would appear from what you say that this is not the case. But I would also question if JK is the fallguy? I have said before that the 1% will eventually turn on itself. Is John Key's time in the club up?

Good on interest.co for publishing this. Perhaps publication of this sort of news, and the employment of quality investigators, will be better rewarded going forward.

Gotta love notaneconomist's musings, but I'm with you iconoclast. I understand that the German paper was first approached, and with 'John Doe's' permission they got ICIJ involved, as having the resources and capabilities to deal with it all.

Iconoclast - Did those investigative journalists bother to trawl the legislation in each country before their release? To shout the system is wrong is one thing...to shout those using the system legally are somehow complicit in illegal activity is an entirely different issue!

Can I have some of what your smoking?

The specific naming of Key is fascinating. This is no random information dump ,it is being carefully coordinated by an elite group of international investigative journalists. They will realise they need a continuum of high profile casualties to keep the story going. They already have the Icelandic PMs scalp and they seem to be turning the spotlight towards Key. This does not bode well.

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Actually it does bode well for NZers who want to stop the cancer that is killing NZ

Actually I think it bodes very well. Expecting to see the Govt lift in the polls as the voting population see this for what it is...yet another shoddy hit job with little or no foundation.

Hagers fingerprints are all over this..now who does he like to associate with ???

If the PM has committed a crime then he needs to be held accountable. If not, and there is no evidence thus far to suggest he has done anything wrong, then its just another smear.

Time to start dealing with facts, not anonymous journalists opinions

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Here are the facts: John Key/National are a do nothing government. People are starting to see this.

Wander back to whaleoil and spread that crap with the rest of the conspiracy theorists. This has nothing to do with hager.
The only thing hager got right is a lot of horrible people are involved in NZ politics from politicians to their paid attack dogs on both sides

Hagers already on record as saying he's involved in this.

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For democracy it does bode well. If there was no moral wrong doing there would be no issue, JK is going to be testing his teflon I think.

What a load of bollocks - democracy is nothing more than mob rule.....mob rule is not above constitutional law!!!

Morally wrong - what are you smoking? From where I sit it looks like the PM has a legal entity trust....are you saying that is morally wrong? Another person might think thanks JK glad you have given me the knowledge and thanks to The Herald I know exactly who to go to, to set one up......these trust laws have been present for some 30 odd years. If we didn't have all this hideous tax law and arguing left, right and center factions, carrots, sticks and the likes we might actually get a more intelligent conversation on taxes, entities etc.

Legalised theft via taxes is not seen by many to be morally wrong yet what you are indicating is that legal avoidance of taxes is morally wrong.....

a) Morals and laws do not necessarily coincide. b) This looks more like tax evasion than tax avoidance, otherwise why go to such lengths to hide it.

Yes, Key's mention is curious, although other leaders are named by implication. And why in relation to the Cooks, rather than NZ's own foreign trusts regime, which seems somewhat of a timewarp (assuming no conspiracy, that this is 'the' John Doe, and that there isn't more to come out about the Cooks, especially as the AFR has had them for a year). Also because, although NZ's offshore trusts are the perfect getaway vehicle for serious criminals, so too are those from some of the other 'traditional' tax havens (although many of them are more compliant with international norms than other countries). And in terms of where the criminal cash is stashed, we're likely also a bit player, with 'reputable' countries like the US and UK some of the biggest destination locations. So, very strange indeed that our PM gets mentioned.

I wonder if he is mentioned specifically because there is more to come? These things are generally drip feed for maximum effect and catch the miscreants lying in their attempts to deny and cover things up. That may also why he is trying to remain silent.

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Thank you for this great article

Agree.....lets see teflon man shake this off...

Ohh he is trying. Apparently the Cook Islands is not His problem or IRDs? Good to know John, I'll call my accountant Monday

Wake up.

For all those people wanting less corruption and more trust, it may pay to realise, just what caused the GFC and also who benefited mightily from the subsequent money printing to order.

Then they spread the deceit ....and ill-gotten gains around the World, via the Old Boys Network. And where do the jobs for the boys who left Banking go, right to the top of the Political Leadership, as per schedule 1.A of the mandated Big Boys networks. It is par for the course, of course.

Please note, nobody, repeat nobody actually went to jail for the GFC fraud perpetuated and inspired by the 1%. Despite all the Lawyers who could have, should have pointed out the many and varied and obvious crimes involved

You cannot have a lawful Banking system, without lawful Politicians.

And unfortunately for us....Vice Versa.

They made the cracks to exploit, Trust me, on this.

Have been saying the same thing for years...but trust appears to be building in NZ...and slowly but surely renting them out to the citizens, or mortgaged up to the hilt, for the rest of our lives and in perpetuity..and overcharging for the privileged few... Banking on it ad infinitum.

And it all began in the Dark Ages and only now are some, beginning to see the light.

Laws, Trusts, Politicians and, Bankers, interconnected by Lawyers and now the Internet...I rest my case...yet again.

Trust none of the above. Reiteration is becoming a pain. Why would I do it ...otherwise.

Please do not make me do it again, it is giving me gas, and indigestion, repeating myself, so often.

Who needs Panama Papers, it was all ways obvious....to me..... and still is.

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Wake up.

For all those people wanting less corruption and more trust, it may pay to realise, just what caused the GFC and also who benefited mightily from the subsequent money printing to order.

Then they spread the deceit ....and ill-gotten gains around the World, via the Old Boys Network. And where do the jobs for the boys who left Banking go, right to the top of the Political Leadership, as per schedule 1.A of the mandated Big Boys networks. It is par for the course, of course.

Please note, nobody, repeat nobody actually went to jail for the GFC fraud perpetuated and inspired by the 1%. Despite all the Lawyers who could have, should have pointed out the many and varied and obvious crimes involved

You cannot have a lawful Banking system, without lawful Politicians.

And unfortunately for us....Vice Versa.

They made the cracks to exploit, Trust me, on this.

Have been saying the same thing for years...but trust appears to be building in NZ...and slowly but surely renting them out to the citizens, or mortgaged up to the hilt, for the rest of our lives and in perpetuity..and overcharging for the privileged few... Banking on it ad infinitum.

And it all began in the Dark Ages and only now are some, beginning to see the light.

Laws, Trusts, Politicians and, Bankers, interconnected by Lawyers and now the Internet...I rest my case...yet again.

Trust none of the above. Reiteration is becoming a pain. Why would I do it ...otherwise.

Please do not make me do it again, it is giving me gas, and indigestion, repeating myself, so often.

Who needs Panama Papers, it was all ways obvious....to me..... and still is.

Source breaks silence on Mossack Fonseca leaks

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-36232142

Canada’s biggest bank is handing over to the government names of clients with “relationships or connections” to a Panamanian law firm at the center of a massive leak of offshore financial data, the lender confirmed on Thursday.
http://www.bnn.ca/News/2016/5/6/RBC-to-give-CRA-names-of-clients-linked-...

Headlines in journalism is just that, Headlines. It has obviously done its job here. "JK, only politician mentioned in this report." So what? Great humour to read some of the comments here regarding condemnation of JK, the fully able and capable PM who has steered NZ from the GFC, Canterbury EQC'S etc, etc, etc. Frankly, what wrong has he done. Hey, we may as well blame JK for the rest of the problems, no matter what it is - too much consumption of Coke and Fast food in some parts of Auckland, increase in diabetese, all the horrific armed hold ups or for that matter anything else that we can think of.

The way the headlines read,i wouldn't be surprised if JK was on the grassy knoll in 63.

John Key our Hero

[quote]:- Our capable PM who steered NZ from the GFC and Canterbury EQC'S ???

Breathtaking

Would that be the great steering called doing absolutely nothing?, or is it being incredibly lucky enough to inherit and economy that had been very well managed by the previous Labour government, with a good portion of government debt paid off to a very low level relative to other countries.
key has done nothing to lead us from the GFC or CHCH, what a complete joke to think he has.

even mike hosking got stuck into JK, I almost fell of my chair, he actually asked good questions for once
JK mentioned his golf buddy Obama, I'm sure he will be getting a call and it wont be for a golf game
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/national/news/video.cfm?c_id=1503075&gal_cid=1...
http://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/may/06/panama-papers-us-launches-cr...

I wouldn't really say got stuck in, it was still pretty matey in the context of things, Key would know with Hosking there's never going to be a grilling, maybe one hardish question at the most, to give the appearance of Hosking doing his job, even though he doesn't do the job you would expect of normal media.

Successful people sometimes gets attacked and may be despised. JK has had a reasonably good run at both his personal and public affairs. Frankly, tell us : what wrong has he exactly done, without getting too philosophical, in this "Panama stuff.

In short he has done nothing like he does about everything. That will be his legacy a do nothing PM that led a do nothing government.

He has done a few things other than pull ponytails, under John Key, National made changes to certain trust related laws in 2010:

New material released in the last 24 hours showed Mossack Fonseca was urging its staff to "chase the money" in New Zealand, especially following National's 2010 changes to the law, Mr Little said.

Source: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=1163...

He pushed his ministers into making the tax rate on them 0% from a previous 28 or so percent.
That was a massive change to it.

The Cook Islands

Internationally the Cook Islands are regarded as a pariah Tax Haven

If you care to look, search for it, it's there for all to see - not hard to find

It has been in the sights of the Australian Tax Office for a long time
Operation Wickenby has been a running for many years and the Cook Islands keep being targeted
It's all there

The Cooks are a global pioneer in offshore asset-protection trusts, with laws devised to protect foreigners’ assets from legal claims in their home countries. A place to hide your hard-earned assets far from the grasp of former or soon-to-be-former spouses, angry business partners or, if you happen to be a doctor, patients who might sue you
NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/15/business/international/paradise-of-unt...

The Cook Islands. - Associated with NZ.
Used by corrupt NZ companies, individuals, trusts and banks since 1980s.

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Hard to believe but it seems that to be a NZ politician you really need more morals than an FX trader.
JK must be truly puzzled also.

That used to be the case.
Now the majority seem to be happy to overlook ethical situations, as long as they are doing well economically.

All is "well". If you believe an underwater hole in the system is a well.

Bring on the buckets it ...defies belief...it needs bailing out.

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/chinas-debt-problem-is-bigger-than-you-...

John Key must be finding it hard to sleep at night with all this going on. From one scandal to the next. Hope his PR team are getting pay rises.

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This comment from a Stuff reader:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/opinion-analysis/79659317/rod-oram-paint...

"When you embark on an extensive and thorough program of neoliberal 'reform' firstly you deregulate banks and insurers, then sell off state monopolies and reduce tax on the rich, eliminate the concept of the common good and replace it with user pays, finally you privatise state sevices provision, prisons, schools, hospitals, welfare and housing.
Increasing income naturally inequality follows, as does ever greater rentseeking by the new private owners of each now privatised monopoly sectors of the productive economy. The trickle down effect is your entire productive economy becomes less competitive. However the financial services sector booms and it is possible for some time, to maintain a sense of growing wealth among a majority of voters by increasing debt availability and engineering housing/asset price inflation. Many aspirational citizens become smallscale rentseekers owning several rental properties.
Up to a point the illusion can be maintained. We are close to that point.
Nobody who has benefitted from this wants it to end.
The banks, insurers, financial sector, the now privately owned infrastructure framework, homeowners.
But our entire economy is now so weakened, our productive sector is starved of the funds required to maintain those assets and debt levels are close to unsustainable.
Debt funding anything other than productive assets, is a disease.
A few percent increase in the rate of return on money would now collapse this economy.
Forced sale of remaining assets to foreign ownership is more and more likely. "

More up ticks on this subject than all the ticks normally associated with this site.

Maybe, just maybe we have found another topic of interest to our 'Dear Leaders"

The moral high ground, maybe of interest,more so than the interest in flipping houses. A tick is a parasite that lives off the lives of others.

A tick on the next electoral ballot paper may be the next subject we need to debate.

Not that I like any of the ticks we currently voted in, in one way or another, they all have become addicted to the well being of the parasites, not the Host country.

We need to cut that out...before it kills us all.

The "I hate Key hysteria blog" chasing windmills. Not the greatest Key fan but this ridiculous

each to his own, the trouble with NZ politics is most are in there to feather there nests, they may start out with good intentions but then are soon corrupted by power. you only have to look at members from each party that end up on boards when their party is in power.
or the polys that end up with a sweet job on retirement courtesy of whos in power at the time.
and like all organizations this is set by the person at the top they need to lead by example and make sure they stamp it out.
unfortunately the last two leaders have led by whats in it for me and turned a blind eye to corruption as they are more concerned with staying PM

I agree but that's been politics since it was invented nothing new here however nothing to suggest we have some massive corruption problem on our hands is just nonsense background political noise. Jobs for the boys exists in every organisation private or public its human nature pay back. Crony capitalism via favoured rules, regulation, subsidies bailouts is a far more important issues to debate look at current politics in the US well almost everywhere for that matter.

I agree but that's been politics since it was invented nothing new here however nothing to suggest we have some massive corruption problem on our hands is just nonsense background political noise. Jobs for the boys exists in every organisation private or public its human nature pay back. Crony capitalism via favoured rules, regulation, subsidies bailouts is a far more important issues to debate look at current politics in the US well almost everywhere for that matter.

The "I hate Key hysteria blog" chasing windmills. Not the greatest Key fan but this ridiculous

Great stuff. Cook Islands tax heaven was not created by JK but somehow if he does not squash it, he is not fit to be a PM. Keep it up, this is doing JK alot of good. This will help undecideds like me to vote for JK and Co. and lead to their landslide victory and probably how it should.

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We must defend this nations good name at any cost.If Key is found to be aiding and abetting corruption he has to go full stop.

I was a card carrying Nat until it was revealed he had leaked classified information to discredit The opposition leader. He's attempting to sweep these serious allegations under the carpet, he's bribed the Saudis under his watch attempted to bribe Northlanders with bridges etc etc. All considered acceptable practice by his govt. I for one will not tolerate this and am encouraged how many on this site have also shown their condemnation.

Really defend this nations good name what evidence is there a problem are other nations jumping up and down stopping trade, are people not wanting come and live here, is there capital flight a currency collapse NZ making international headlines really its not a beat up ???

Colin you will note I posted' " If " Key is guilty of aiding and abetting corruption.' We need to assess what revelations emerge from Tuesdays info. As I have said Key has already shown himself to be too morally expedient for my liking. For me corruption is like a cancer on society and if we start turning a blind eye like you are advocating its a slippery slope.

As for what evidence we have that it is affecting our reputation and the consequences thereof, as asked below, only time will tell. From my perspective this is irrelevant. I want us to be setting the standard not somehow aspiring to be the lowest common denominator.

Shagger - see below - turning a blind eye - denying responsibility - condoning - complicit - complicity is tantamount to aiding and abetting
http://www.interest.co.nz/news/81460/panama-papers-whistleblower-issues-...

Pontius Pilate washes his hands of Cook Islands responsibility

Citizenship and nationality

From a legal standpoint, there is no such thing as a Cook Islands citizenship. The Cook Islands is a country in free association with New Zealand and is part of the Realm of New Zealand. As such, Cook Islanders are New Zealand citizens

The Cook Islands does not issue its own passports, a privilege usually assumed by virtually all sovereign countries, but places this responsibility in the hands of the New Zealand Government which issues passports for New Zealand citizens who are also Cook Islands nationals.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cook_Islanders

Colin. There is reason to worry about corruption in the Cook Islands, or to stop trusts being used for fraud in some nation we can't even spell. It's the 'broken windows' approach. If you don't pay attention to the little stuff, eg vandalism, then it's hard to deal with the big stuff. To be effective you just got to draw a line at all and any scuzzy stuff.

Really defend this nations good name what evidence is there a problem are other nations jumping up and down stopping trade, are people not wanting come and live here, is there capital flight a currency collapse NZ making international headlines really its not a beat up ???

Pontius Pilate washes his hands of Cook Islands responsibility

Citizenship and nationality

From a legal standpoint, there is no such thing as a Cook Islands citizenship. The Cook Islands is a country in free association with New Zealand and is part of the Realm of New Zealand. As such, Cook Islanders are New Zealand citizens

The Cook Islands does not issue its own passports, a privilege usually assumed by virtually all sovereign countries, but places this responsibility in the hands of the New Zealand Government which issues passports for New Zealand citizens who are also Cook Islands nationals.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cook_Islanders

He has washed his hands and in doing so implicitly condones the Cook Islands Tax Haven status

Goodness gracious even if the Cooks really a tax haven are you really worried that some sleaze bag from the other side of the world manages to void paying some tax via the Cooks. Aren't there more important issue in the world ??

Younger readers probably don't remember the Wine Box Inquiry of 1994. I do.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winebox_Inquiry

I would love to have a penny for every $100 that the political/economic "elite" have spent maligning and insulting "Winston" (never ever "Mr Peters") over the last 22 years. They shiver in their corrupt boots every time they see his smiling face and hear him laughing at them!!! Most of the population was fooled by a sneering Paul Henry et al. But not all of us bought the scam. Winston Peters has never given up on us!! I have voted for NZ First ever since the Wine box

The Magnum Transaction[edit]
The transaction at the centre of the Winebox Inquiry was known as the “Magnum” transaction. This is largely because it was the focus of much of the subsequent litigation. In fact there were more than 60 different transactions involving a range of parties contained in the documents in the “winebox”.

In September 1986 European Pacific Investments (EPI) was incorporated. Magnum was a company owned by EPI. It paid the Cook Islands Government $2 million and received a tax certificate which was presented to the tax office in New Zealand. Once presented, EPI received a tax credit of the same amount. Meanwhile, back in the Cook Islands, another member of the EPI group received a refund of $1.95 million from the government, the net effect being that the EPI group had effectively paid the Cook Islands government $50,000 but received a New Zealand tax credit of $2 million.

The Commission concluded that there was no fraud or incompetence.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winebox_Inquiry

Tax avoidance and the players in the "Winebox Inquiry". Nothing has changed. I remember it vividly. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/sharemarket/news/article.cfm?c_id=316&objectid...

Terrifying. It is as if the Beast from the crypt has risen again. Be afraid NZ, be very afraid. Thanks for the nightmarish link Gin!

Every dog has its day - Will Winston Peters now have his day?

He may well be the saviour who saves New Zealand from its current malaise

Personally I think NZF / WP will be party no3 in 2017.

Funny how politics goes. I have never voted for Winston but will probably doing so next year. Many of the things he has been banging on about for years ie Immigration, corruption, foreign ownership, trade deals and the reserve bank act are all in play. He has also now cleverly positioned himself as the saviour of provincial NZ and has even been the closest in predicting the current dairy payout.

Another one to watch is his actions on the Silver Fern Farms/ Shanghai Maling deal. He now has substantial backup from a very influential group of shareholders( including ex chairmen and directors) who are also railing against the deal for which it never looked like due process was followed. His sixth sense of which issues to hunt serves him well.

Contrast poor old Andrew Little who appears to be quite reactionary on many issues and plain barks up the wrong tree on others. I qualify that by noting Little seems to be honest to the core which is a quality that I am valuing more and more.

and the vast majority of migrants since 1995 wouldn't know either

No

and John Key has remembered there might possibly be some tax evasion going on via New Zealand - so now has a crack team ready for action when more NZ connections become public on Tuesday.

http://www.stuff.co.nz/business/79745762/crack-ird-team-ready-to-join-gl...

Key said there was an expectation that every New Zealander would "pay their rightful share of tax".

"The Government has followed that value very strongly.. if there's a New Zealand individual that's identified that's come out of the Panama Paper release that hasn't paid their fair share of tax they should expect a knock on the door from IRD."

Fantastic spin and deflection .

IRD will be going after Kiwis who might be hiding money in offshore trusts when the elephant is the offshore sods using NZ based trusts.

"Previous Panama Papers revelations have focused on the foreign trust industry in New Zealand and their use by wealthy individuals to minimise tax paid in their country of residence.

New details on Friday showed how a stream of foreign cash became a torrent flooding into New Zealand trusts in order to avoid tax offshore."

off to the supermarket as have run out of tin foil...what a load of lefty bull shish kebabs pervading this website site

See you still don't get it do you keywest, criticizing the government doesn't make you a lefty.
Take Winston for example, he ain't a lefty, but he is one of the first to criticize the government when they slip up, just like he should be.
key is paid 400K a year to do this job, and his other nat mates are getting paid pretty well too.
key and you don't seem to think they should be accountable for the job they are doing though.
But every government should be accountable, just like you no doubt expected when the previous government was in power.

Most commenters here are actually pro-business, interested in financial & economic issues - whether personal investment or business related. Most would probably be ( ordinarily) natural National supporters.
Which must indicate the level of concern about a PM who no longer represents their values or economic management.

Good advice Philthy. It's not about this party vs that party. It's about who is in power and where the responsibility to govern sits at this point in time. As national has been in government now into their third terms it is tiring hearing what labour did or didn't do. Take some ownership. Lead this country and if something is broken aka trusts and property market then fix it.