Opposition slams Govt's proposed tax investigation

  • 12/04/2016

Opposition parties are dismissing the Government's review of foreign trust laws as a "charade" and a "soft option" in the face of claims New Zealand is a tax haven.

Winston Peters says he is appalled with the Government's proposed review and does not support the choice of investigator to lead it.

Prime Minister John Key announced yesterday tax expert John Shewan would head an independent review and said if there were better ways to handle the trusts, the Government would change the rules.

Mr Peters says Mr Shewan is politically biased and lacking credentials. He says the review is a 'snowjob' and a coverup.

"[He] simply is not the kind of person which international commentariat would have any confidence in at all, nor do I," he says.

Labour leader Andrew Little says the review must involve more than one tax adviser operating behind closed doors.

"Yet again, the Prime Minister is doing the absolute minimum to appear as if he is addressing an issue the public are deeply concerned about," he says.

"When a full inquiry is needed, John Key has created a charade - the reality is the Government is allowing the world's richest people to hide their wealth in New Zealand and not pay their fair share."

Mr Shewan is brushing off the accusations as rubbish.

"The Minister of Revenue asked if I would take an independent review, the key objective being to ensure New Zealand's reputation is upheld, and I'm entirely supportive of that," he says.

The review is a response to the global uproar over the Panama Papers -- 11.5 million documents leaked from secretive law firm Mossack Fonseca which specialises in setting up foreign trusts for its wealthy clients.

New Zealand has more than 11,000 of them and is reported to be mentioned 60,000 times in the documents.

There are legitimate reasons for wealthy people to set up foreign trusts, but they're also used for tax avoidance and money laundering.

Mr Little says an inquiry should fully examine all 60,000 times New Zealand is mentioned, and all the trusts set up here.

Newshub. / NZN