Revelations today that the Prime Minister’s close personal advisor who lobbied him and the Government over foreign trusts has links with the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca leaves many questions unanswered, Andrew Little says.
“John Key assured New Zealanders that his lawyer Ken Whitney had nothing to do with the firm at the centre of the Panama Papers tax avoidance scandal.
“Now, as well as a ‘sloppily’ written email which pointed to the Prime Minister being against an IRD review of the foreign trusts regime, we have revelations that Mr Whitney is linked to Mossack Fonseca. Why did the Prime Minister fail to tell New Zealanders about this?
“We also know now that most of the lobbyists who worked to stop the IRD review of foreign trusts had links to the Panamanian company. The fact the review was stopped so quickly after Minister Todd McClay met with them shows insider influence that would appal most New Zealanders.
“John Key has changed his story on the foreign trusts regime at every turn, first saying there was no issue and now having us believe he will act to stop the world’s global mega-rich from hiding their wealth here so they don’t have to pay tax
“He can’t have it both ways and he must come clean on why the IRD was thwarted in its moves to stop New Zealand being used as a tax haven.
“The Government must act to preserve New Zealand’s reputation by shutting down the system that sees our country implicated in a massive global network of tax avoidance. This is about doing the right thing.
“John Key has damaged our international reputation with his denials of the foreign trusts issue and he is siding with those who would avoid their tax obligations whether here or overseas.
“Foreign trusts in their current form cannot continue to operate in New Zealand and John Key has many more questions to answer,” Andrew Little says.