Andrew Dickens on the Panama Papers

Andrew Dickens is really stepping up in the past few weeks. His column from yesterday explains how middle NZ feels about the Panama Papers:

We’ve had a few days of the Panama Papers and I’m picking most people have no idea what’s going on.

Today 200,000 names and all the papers were released by the International Consortium of Journalists who have been looking at this for a year.  They’ve been looking at the papers sourced from an illegal leak by a whistleblower.

Now how about that for journalists deciding to be judge, jury and executioner.  Being one of the 200,000 doesn’t automatically mean you’re a bad person. However many people, who have no idea what’s happening, will think these named people and entities are dodgy in some way or another.  It’s incrimination by insinuation.  It’s not pleasant.

Media party like to play judge, jury and executioner. They play fast and loose and think they are performing some sort of higher purpose. Mostly they are low ratbags. Sanctimonious low ratbags happy to play with illegal operations but finger pointing at anyone they don’t like doing the same.

So where am I at with the Panama Papers?

The rules were written in 1988 under a Labour government and they’re common to many countries.

We have these trust laws for obvious reasons but they can be taken advantage of.

Imagine you’ve got a business and you work hard and pay your taxes and fulfill all your obligations.  You sell up and you’ve got a million bucks.  It’s legal and paid up but if you put it in the bank you’re paying tax on it again.  You’re not keen on that so you park it in a jurisdiction that doesn’t want to double dip you.  Perfectly fair and perfectly reasonable.  That’s why these things exist.  The privacy exists because nobody likes the whole world peering into your pay packet.

Except panty sniffing journalists.

Now also imagine being a Colombian drug lord.  You’ve also got a million bucks.  It’s not legal.  It’s never been taxed.  You also want to park it somewhere without tax and without being identified.  You’ll chose somewhere out of your jurisdiction.  Oooh look New Zealand. That’s at the end of the world. No-one will suspect a thing.  Let’s go there.

My point is the legality of tax liability lies at the feet of each sovereign jurisdiction where the money comes from in the first place.  The kiwi retiring with a million in tax paid cash should be allowed to park without tax.  But if foreign guys want to park the profit from their nefarious activities here who’s problem is it really?

It’s the initial sovereign jurisdiction’s problem in my opinion.  If the bad guys have got the money out then more fool the country that let them earn it and then export it .  Close down the NZ trust law and all the bad guys will do is find somewhere else.

Yep. But you can’t really close it down without removing trusts altogether. Take my brother for instance. He has lived overseas for more than 30 years. But he has trusts to protect his assets. Removing foreign trusts would affect his family and he isn’t doing anything illegal.

I talked to an International Consortium of Journalist guy this morning.  Firstly he stressed that if your name is on the list it doesn’t mean you’re bad or that you’ve done anything illegal.  He said these laws are everywhere and New Zealand came into vogue in 2013 because someone realised we’ve got a good reputation.  We’re nice guys with sheep and Lord of the Rings and he confirmed that if we closed it down there are plenty of other places to go.

At the end of the day most of these trusts are nothing to worry about. Most are perfectly legal and fair. Our trusts are the end of the money chain and the problem really lies at source.

Let’s concentrate on clamping down on our own money launderers and drug lords before worrying about other country’s bad guys.

Is Andrew Dickens the only sensible journalist in New Zealand right now?

The reality is the Media party have beaten this up into something it isn’t. They are wrecking people’s lives with no reason other than a wonky and illegal jihad from Nicky Hager to get John Key. It is disgraceful…and a failure.


– NewstalkZB


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  • Rebecca

    My understanding is that most international foreign trusts attract tax where the trustee is resident. In this model, NZ foreign trusts would be taxed in NZ.

    This is the key difference: foreigners channeling foreign earnings via a NZ foreign trust will not be taxed in NZ and won’t be taxed at all unless they declare the revenue at home. The overseas tax department has no way to know the NZ trust exists unless the beneficiary volunteers it. The accusations re tax haven start and finish there.

    Interestingly, if there’s an Australian involved then more information is required of the foreign trust so the IRD can pass this onto the Australian tax office. According to the IRD, Australia is the only foreign jurisdiction that has asked for this.

    I wish the MSM would explain this sort of simple concept rather than casting a wide net of innuendo and “something stinks” fallacies that just turn reasonable people off.

    Once I understood the above, I wondered why NZers would want these foreign trusts to exist at all. It creates work for the IRD especially if declaration responsibilities are increased or more jurisdictions ask for information gathering that has to be administered by the IRD in exchange for nothing.

    • zanyzane

      Non resident kiwis with Family Trusts are also classified as a Foreign Trust.

      • Rebecca

        Yes, any settlor outside NZ can have a foreign trust as long as there’s no NZ resident beneficiary, no NZ earnings and no NZ distribution.

        • zanyzane

          NZ definition of a Foreign Trust is based on the tax residency of the trustees. The settlor is not disclosed nor are the beneficiaries disclosed unless they receive a NZ trust income. IRD only records as a NZ tax resident or a non NZ tax resident There is no Foreign Trust register. If you do not derive NZ income there is no requirement to register a IRD number.

          • Rebecca

            Most of these foreign trusts have a local professional trustee, but still pay no NZ tax. The IRD is disinterested as long as settlor, income and beneficiaries are foreign. If you’re a kiwi trustee of your own trust: you cannot benefit from the easier disclosure rules if you’re not Nz resident, but otherwise it’s the same. So it’s not the tax residency of the trustee that matters. This is the difference from other jurisdictions where what you say is true.

          • zanyzane

            There is no such beast as a Foreign Trust in NZ. There is no trust register in NZ. IRD is the only register and all IRD cares about is if you are a tax resident or a non tax

          • Rebecca

            If the beneficiary becomes a NZ tax resident then the foreign trust turns into a non-complying trust. To remain a foreign trust, I agree that the IRD requires settlor, income and beneficiaries to be foreign. You can be a NZ tax resident as long as settlor, income and beneficiaries remain foreign.

          • zanyzane

            NZ Trusts exist by a trust deed. There is no statutory requirement to have a local trustee.

          • Rebecca

            If you have a NZ foreign trust, a local professional trustee reduces your declaration/recording obligations.

            Whether you do or don’t have a local trustee, the IRD is disinterested as long as settlor, income and beneficiaries are foreign.

  • Michelle

    would be nice to see a collective of trustholders and the law firms named for doing their jobs fight back and sue the pants of these idiots, including the ones higher up the line who allowed it all to be published

  • R&BAvenger

    WOW, yes I think you are right about Andrew Dickens, aside from a distant relative who writes items for general publication and actually does the legwork and meets people and interviews them before writing, he certainly is the best writer in this space.

  • Catriona

    ‘Panty sniffers”. I like that. I won’t be able to look at any of the ratbags donkey deep in the Panama Papers ‘scandal’ the same any more. And that includes the females as well…….
    They really didn’t engage their brains and look ahead to see what the fallout of their snitching would be did they. Now, if each of them possessed the political savvy and intelligence of the late Sir Paul Holmes, I might be persuaded to engage with the story. Yeah nah.

  • Keeping Stock

    “Incrimination by insinuation” – I like that phrase, a lot. But so far the only ones to have been incriminated by insinuation are Greenpeace, Amnesty International, the Red Cross, Mojo Mathers and Mr Elworthy, Green Party donor (and good on him for putting his money where his mouth was).

    In hoping to ensnare John Key, all the cabal of RNZ and TVNZ journos have managed to do is score a series of own goals. How bizarre!

    • zanyzane

      Greenpeace does carry out illegal activities all around the world Their members have been arrested and jailed in many countries

    • Aucky

      Wussel came up with a ‘Who me?’ statement on RNZ this morning. He said that Greenpeace were victims of a scam. No statement yet from Red Cross or Amnesty.

      • kereru

        Did the NZ Red Cross ever give a satisfactory answer to why almost half their donations for the Boxing Day tsunami were unaccounted for?

  • Hard1

    Waiting for the investigative serious on the NZ drug pipeline, the gang players, their lawyers, accountants, the Chinese Underbanks that miraculously make money given in NZ reappear in China, the recent bound and gagged women, gang standover tactics, where the gangs are stashing their millions, whether the largest gangs control the native ones, which retail outlets are gang owned, etc. etc.

  • hookerphil

    How poor was yesterday when ALan Hubbard was dragged up from his grave and smeared again all over TV1. They are just lowlife.

    • JEL51

      And another well known Sth Canterbury family’s name dragged out for derision. There are some really ignorant, misguided fools in media that the Word-of-the-Day should be permanently attached.

      • Michelle

        I hope supporters and friends of the Hubbard’s remember this when it comes to casting their votes
        Gutter politics and Media party

  • Aucky

    I have had to totally revise my opinion on Andrew Dickens. I had him down as a simpering lightweight wannabe a la Mark Dye when he first appeared at ZB but time has proved me wrong. Maybe he’s the man to take over Leighton’s slot.

    • JEL51

      Too soon.

      • Aucky

        Who else?

        • JEL51

          Tim B who seems to be in training during the small hours, has a broader background.He has a way to go in as much he forgets he is on the radio and treats callers like family but he has the IQ to draw out the best of people when he remembers.
          He does some wonderful stuff-ups with the dials, levers & buttons at times.

          • Aucky

            I don’t do graveyard shift radio so I’m unable to comment. Leighton is a unique character and will leave massive boots to fill. He also handles his own advertising so it’s not just a radio host that ZB is losing.

  • Macca

    The one positive to come out of this entire yawn fest is that many, many more people are seeing the MSM for the lefty ludites they really are and thus making this site even stronger as people come here, look for the truth and what they really want to hear – not the manufactured, heavily left slanted manure that the media are trying to force feed them!

  • cows4me

    The leftist media are just playing one of their favorite games, it’s called class warfare. This is where the unthinking and the envious are wiped into a frothing frenzy by politically motivated liars. All those nasty rich pricks and their filthy wealth, where’s my fair share is the call. This is politics for the easily lead, perhaps the only saving grace in all of this is that most of those this nonsense is directed to couldn’t give a fat rat’s butt hole unless it’s trending at the top of facebook.

  • Caprice

    Could I ask a genuine question?
    What is the above mentioned two million dollars doing in New Zealand while it is parked up in a trust? Is it invested and working? If it is parked in NZ, is it more likely to be invested in this country, and be providing indirect benefit to us all?
    The talk is of the paltry amount earned from us being a haven – I would be interested to know if there is a deeper level of advantage to New Zealand in having them here.

    • Christie

      No – Andrew is actually wrong about that. The assets in a foreign trust are not necessarily in New Zealand- they may be still physically located in the country of origin, but owned by a foreign trust.

  • Boondecker

    What’s amusing about the Panama Papers, more than anything else, is just how telegraphed an attempted hit job (in NZ by the left on John Key) it was from the start. You could see it coming a mile off.

    In battle, if you see your enemy getting plenty of notice of your potential attack and thus being able to well prepare the battlefield, if you had any nous at all about strategy you would hold off your offensive in order to reconsider your next move. Labour, the Media Party and the Greens have completely failed at the most basic level (once again).

    The left’s purported weapons of mass destruction are again as real as the ones never found in Iraq.

    • Ross

      What’s even more shocking is they’ve spent a year preparing this! It takes a special kind of mindset to spend an entire year of your life on something so vacuous and pointless.

  • Yellow Admiral

    Since the ‘release’ of the database on Monday and the subsequent media reference to individuals, I have been surprised by the total silence from the Privacy Commissioner. Surely what the high powered expert journalistic team has been doing is affecting the privacy of the NZrs they highlight.

  • LesleyNZ

    In Fiji right now and catching up on news. BIG NEWS. Fiji is mentioned in a the Panama papers. Front page news yesterday. Like NZ most here would not have clue or be interested in what Panama is all about.