Foreign trust industry was in Govt’s ear the day after Shewan Report

The Green Party is calling on the Government to hold the line in the face of foreign trust lobbying to water down new foreign trust disclosure reforms, the Green Party said today.

“Less than a day after the Government was forced to accept most of the Shewan Inquiry recommendations, the foreign trust industry began a concerted campaign to weaken its response,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

Information released to the Green Party under the Official Information Act shows that a foreign trust

lobby group, led by Robin Oliver and Mike Shaw, wrote to the Minister of Revenue the day after the Government adopted the Shewan Inquiry’s recommendations, seeking to weaken new disclosure requirements and penalties for foreign trusts.

“The National Government must hold the line against New Zealand’s secretive foreign trust industry despite its close personal relationship to them,” said Mr Shaw.

“Foreign trust lobbyists sought changes to new disclosure requirements within 24 hours of the Government announcing its intention to adopt a majority of the Shewan Inquiry’s recommendations.

“Robin Oliver and Mike Shaw wrote to the Minister of Revenue seeking changes limiting disclosure and weakening penalties for non-disclosure.

“Subsequent Select Committee submissions from foreign trust providers Cone Marshall, Robin Oliver, and TGT Legal are all pushing in a co-ordinated way for draft foreign trust law to be watered down.

“Foreign trust reporting requirements must stay robust given the ease with which New Zealand foreign trusts can be used to avoid paying tax and launder money.

“If we lose the automatic sharing of foreign trust information between IRD and foreign tax administrations, we’ll effectively be no better off. It will be business-as-usual for our foreign trust industry. New Zealand's international reputation will continue to be at risk of being seen as a haven for shady operators.

“National has been highly compromised in the past through its close connection with the foreign trust industry.

“John Key’s personal lawyer, Ken Whitney, was found to have used his position of privilege to stop IRD’s earlier plans for reform of an industry they described as unsustainable.

“Key himself had to be dragged kicking and screaming into a review that, in hindsight, was needed all along.

“John Shewan’s findings are a win for greater transparency around tax matters and for honest politics internationally. We cannot let his reforms be watered down by vested interests with close ties to the Government,” said Mr Shaw.

 

Latest Finance Announcements

Story

Economic windfall should be funnelled straight back into communities: Green Party

Following an economic forecast that shows Aotearoa strongly rebounding from COVID-19, and Crown accounts looking much healthier than expected, the ...
Read More

Story

Green Party to abstain from tax changes that will worsen house crisis in absence of tax on assets

The Green Party will abstain from a bill that will make slight changes to income tax brackets.
Read More

Story

Green Party welcome Adrian Orr’s full and frank advice on tax

We welcome Adrian Orr signalling that he will provide advice to the Finance Minister on fiscal measures, include tax changes, to cool the housing m...
Read More

Story

Green Party respond to Government review of housing settings

It is a positive step that the Government is looking at options to take the heat out of the housing market, and has written to the Reserve Bank to ...
Read More

Story

Reserve Bank policies will inevitably heat housing market, Government must implement tax reform to cool it down

The Government must use levers to prevent further over-heating of the housing market, which will result from the Reserve Bank pumping another $28 b...
Read More

Story

No surprise in National’s latest attempt to slash public services

National’s ‘alternative budget’ that includes huge cuts to the government’s operating allowance would risk gutting critical public services, and pu...
Read More