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Mossack Fonseca links to OIO approvals must be investigated

The Minister for Land Information must investigate and disclose how many applications to the Overseas Investment Office (OIO) have links to Mossack Fonseca, says Labour’s Land Information spokesperson David Cunliffe.

“Labour can now reveal the OIO approved an application from Panamanian company Ceol & Muir – a client of Mossack Fonseca – to purchase the 1300ha landmark Onetai Station at Awakino in North Taranaki in February 2014.

“Onetai Station Ltd has one shareholder, Ceol & Muir, according to companies website Open Corporates. Ceol & Muir’s listed agent is Bufete MF – a trading name of Mossack Fonseca.

“Mossack Fonseca was implicated in the release of the Panama Papers which pointed to New Zealand being used as a tax haven by the mega-wealthy for tax avoidance.

“The Government’s contention that only one application is caught up with Mossack Fonseca needs further scrutiny, especially when the OIO admits it has taken a ‘lighter touch’ in rejecting applications. The OIO should be our safeguard, but with only one application declined since 2011, questions should be asked about the effectiveness of its oversight.

“The Government must immediately front up about just how many OIO deals are now under review. We need a robust OIO system to give New Zealanders assurance about foreign buyers purchasing our sensitive land,” says David Cunliffe.