'Strong NZ connection' to Panama Papers

'Strong NZ connection' to Panama Papers

A Kiwi journalist at the heart of a huge leak of documents from a Panama-based law firm says some New Zealand names could be dragged through the mud.

The leak of 11.5 million documents - amounting to 2.6 terabytes of data - from Panama-based Mossack Fonseca is considered to be the largest in history.

The so-called Panama Papers reveal the existence of 214,000 foreign trusts and companies set up in more than 200 countries for Mossack Fonseca's wealthy clients.

More than 11,000 foreign trusts have been set up in New Zealand and opposition parties are accusing the Government of allowing the country to be used as a tax haven.

Former Wairarapa Times-Age and Evening Post journalist Peter Bale, now head of the Center for Public Integrity that oversaw the journalistic investigation, spoke to The Nation today.

Although he had not looked at the New Zealand data himself, he said he had discussed it with the team of investigative journalists working on the project.

"You can be absolutely certain, I think, or as near to certain that there will be significant numbers of New Zealanders and of New Zealand entities, certainly New Zealand entities, within this data set."

Due to the time and resources needed to analyse the data, it could take months to produce results, but there was "still much more to come", he said.

"The history of New Zealand's position on offshore companies, people registering trusts there from offshore and also things like New Zealand's relationship with Niue and some of the other places that we know Mossack Fonseca has used, means that you should assume that there is a very strong New Zealand connection."

NZN / Newshub.

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