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Shewan report delivers rebuke to National

John Shewan’s report into foreign trusts is a rebuke to John Key and the National Party who have protected an industry that has damaged New Zealand’s reputation, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.

“Three years ago the Inland Revenue Department warned National Party ministers that New Zealand’s reputation was being damaged by our loose and secretive foreign trust regime. The foreign trust industry used their influence through John Key to stop the IRD’s work in this area.

“Three years of damage to the reputation and confidence in our taxation system are the result.

“John Key’s first reaction when the Panama Papers were released was to protect the foreign trust industry rather than protect our reputation. He sought to dismiss anyone who thought our regime needed to change. This report contradicts that stance.

“Labour supports the improved disclosure and transparency recommendations of the Shewan report. These will make for a system that is more open and will give foreign Governments greater ability to track down those who are avoiding their tax obligations.

“We believe that the central registry of trusts that has been proposed should be publicly available to ensure the highest level of transparency. It is possible to do this, and provide exceptions for those whose safety would be compromised by being identified.

“The review still leaves the mis-match between New Zealand’s tax treatment of foreign trusts and global norms.

“That means we must continue our work at a national and international level to create a tax system where everyone pays their fair share and we do not leave loop-holes to be exploited by the mega-rich,” Grant Robertson said.