Foreign Trusts are legal. Let me repeat this: legal

Germany’s Deutsche Welle reports

Journalists will name names, goes the critique, but they don’t have evidence that the names behind the shell companies are guilty of having done anything illegal.

How can this even be a “thing”?  Everyone is acting within the law, yet somehow, this is the biggest world-wide scandal for some time.

The criticism has come up repeatedly, most often by lawyers, financial experts and even from media personalties themselves. The German magazine for journalists, Meedia, wrote the research was of “dubious quality.”

In an interview with Deutsche Welle, financial expert Dirk Müller said that “we’ve known for decades that shell companies have existed on a large scale; that Panama is a textbook example of a tax haven for such firms.

Where’s the surprise in that?”

“What’s more interesting than which names have appeared on the list are those which do not,” Müller said, after questioning the “great scandal.” It’s remarkable that the names tend to have come from those on the “other side” politically. People from China, Russia, the Arab world. “Where are the big names from America?” Where the documents optimized before publication, taking away the names that one doesn’t want to see on them?”

And why is New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key the only international statesman singled out by the Manifesto, supposedly written by someone overseas with no specific links or motivations to point the finger at New Zealand, unless there is a fantastically clear reason to do so?  

And more specifically, why was John Key not mentioned when the complete and definitive list of high profile people involved with the Panama Papers was released earlier?

And let me repeat:  none of it is illegal.   International trusts are possible through legislation introduced by the Labour Party.  Never a problem until… now.

As of now, the “Panama Papers” scandal seems to center on the alleged criminal activities being hidden by the shell companies. There isn’t any evidence yet. Which begs the question asked by critics of the leak: just what do the journalists plan to do?

The trusts are legal, their use is by and large genuine, and some dodgy people use them to stash funds that are yet to be proven to have been obtained illegally.

So where’s the problem?  And why is John Key at all responsible in any way for an Italian politician arranging tax matters in another country.  Legally?

“Mossack Fonseca,” the firm at the heart of the scandal for its ties to shell companies, has said that it can provide proof that the companies it founded were not created or used to evade taxes, launder money or for other criminal purposes.

If the bank actually can provide evidence that they were thorough in the accounting and the majority of the owners of these companies can prove that they run no illegal businesses – only take part in a tax avoidance scheme – then the publication of the “Panama Papers” will have had no long-term impact, according to financial experts from leading tax consultancies. Perhaps the real scandal lies, then, in the double standards of a not-very-forceful international policy against tax havens.

A debate over the desirability to have such tax devices, and if New Zealand should participate in it, is a valid debate to have.  But as per usual, the media, left and Hager’s mob are totally over egging the pudding.


– Wolfgang Dick, Deutsche Welle

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