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Govt must start again with foreign trusts inquiry

The Green Party is calling for the Government to start again and broaden the scope of the Shewan Inquiry, following new evidence from the Panama Papers of New Zealand’s role in the global web of tax avoidance, uncovered by the Australian Financial Review.

“The Government needs to go back to the drawing board and start a much more comprehensive inquiry into allegations that New Zealand is becoming a destination of choice for ultra-wealthy people seeking to avoid paying tax in their home countries,” Green Party finance spokesperson Julie Anne Genter said.

“Kicking the tyres and taking a quick look under the bonnet, as John Shewan has been told to do, simply isn’t enough to get to the bottom of this issue which is sullying New Zealand’s good reputation as a transparent country.

“The Government needs to stop defending wealthy tax avoiders and start cleaning up this mess.

“We need a much fuller review with a panel of local and international experts, with the ability for anyone with relevant information to provide input, given that Mossack Fonseca is probably only the tip of the iceberg in New Zealand.

“This is about what’s right for New Zealand as a responsible global citizen. We shouldn’t be allowing our good name to be tainted by global tax dodgers who are cashing in on our high ranking in international transparency indexes.

“John Key’s lawyer, Ken Whitney, has cropped up again in today’s leaked papers. He reportedly wrote to Mossack Fonseca directly to provide written references for companies seeking to get work opening foreign trusts in New Zealand.

“It’s beyond belief that our Prime Minister has been minimising the seriousness of this issue. It’s past time undertake a proper review,” said Ms Genter.