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Government’s weak trusts inquiry lambasted

The weak and absurd scope of the Government’s inquiry into foreign trusts has been lambasted by Transparency International, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

“In a scathing statement released today, the anti-corruption watchdog warns that the John Sherwan-led inquiry into foreign trust disclosure rules fails to address fundamental issues raised by the Panama Papers.

“It warns that the narrow terms of reference mean the inquiry ‘will merely investigate foreign trusts rather than tackle the broader spectrum of financial crime risks associated with New Zealand companies and trusts’.

“Transparency International has also raised concerns about the inquiry’s limited scope, short deadline and the fact it ignores substantial government policy work already done in this area.

“This criticism comes amid revelations about the influence John Key’s lawyer and advisor on the Inland Revenue’s decision not to clamp down on foreign trusts.

“It adds further weight to Labour’s calls for an urgent and fully independent inquiry with the ability to call witnesses and subpoena evidence. Only such a robust inquiry will restore public confidence in the fairness of our tax system.

“The Prime Minister must stop trying to minimise any examination of these tax-dodging vehicles. Most New Zealanders are appalled that the mega-rich can hide their wealth here and want him to take action now,” Andrew Little says.