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Govt must broaden inquiry into tax avoidance

The Government must urgently broaden its limited review of foreign trusts in light of new revelations of the extent of New Zealand’s involvement in the global tax avoidance industry, the Green Party said today.

“Newly revealed leaked documents from Mossack Fonseca demonstrate that New Zealand has become an integral part of the global tax avoidance network,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“It’s time for the Prime Minister to stop defending the tax avoidance industry and broaden the review of foreign trusts into a full scale inquiry into tax avoidance.”

“A full inquiry needs to draw from a panel of local and international experts, with the ability for anyone with relevant information to provide input. It should include experts from IRD, the SFO, and Commerce Commission on it given that shell and look-through companies are also implicated as tax avoidance vehicles.”

The Green Party has been calling for greater disclosure around our foreign trust industry since 2013 — around the same time Mossack Fonseca was heavily marketing New Zealand foreign trusts abroad.

“Since 2013, Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has been urging its clients, particularly those in South America, to use New Zealand’s foreign trust and company structures as a way to avoid paying tax,” said Mr Shaw.

“By facilitating tax avoidance abroad, New Zealand is helping to deny ordinary people in poorer countries the money they need for education, health, and other vital public services.

Despite the Prime Minister’s constant excuses, its clear that the secrecy and tax free status of New Zealand foreign trusts make them an attractive vehicle for tax avoidance and crime.

“New Zealand is being used to facilitate tax avoidance, which is damaging our reputation abroad and robbing developing nations of collecting their fair share of taxes.”