But it ticks all the boxes says Vance and Hager

The Media party have gone all in on the Panama Papers.

You have award winning journalists like Andrea Vance claiming:

All high-profile individuals, shamed by Panama Papers revelations.

But New Zealand doesn’t just have its share of wealthy tax-dodgers.

This is an entire country embarrassed and tarnished by the contents of Mossack Fonesca’s secret files.

An entire country shamed? Really?

Nicky Hager also claims:

But the Panama Papers reveal to New Zealanders something that very few of us have known: that this sort of stuff has been allowed to go on in New Zealand as well.

The Panama Papers leave no doubt at all that New Zealand is being used as one of those tax havens.

Vance again:

The Government holds fast to the position that New Zealand is not a tax haven.

From the outset, definitively answering the question: “Is New Zealand a tax haven?” became a crucial focus of our joint investigation.

We pinned the OECD definition of a tax haven to the wall of our “bunker” in central Wellington.

The OECD’s first criteria: No or nominal taxes on the relevant income.

TICK.

If New Zealand trusts don’t earn money here then they don’t pay income, capital gains, or inheritance tax here.

But this alone is generally not considered enough to earn the tax haven badge.

The OECD also considers there needs to be a lack of effective exchange of information.

TICK.

We found that while New Zealand shares information with countries such as Australia, France and the US, it doesn’t have agreements in place with many of the South and Central American countries – and this is where Mossack Fonseca has been promoting New Zealand.

A lack of transparency is another factor the OECD relies on to identify tax havens.

TICK.

Foreigners can name a Mossack Fonseca nominee as the director of the trust and so avoid being identified in the documentation.

Finally, the trusts and companies should also show no substantial activity or purpose, except for holding assets.

TICK.

If these entities were active, we couldn’t see any evidence of it.

 She’s admitted to pinning the OECD definition to the wall of her office and then she says it ticks all the boxes. How on earth did she come to that conclusion? It is certainly vastly different from my understanding of what constitutes a tax haven.

She is wilfully dissembling to create the impression that New Zealand is a tax haven. She even admits that in her first “Tick” where she says “If New Zealand trusts don’t earn money here then they don’t pay income, capital gains, or inheritance tax here.”. Is she really suggesting, along with Labour and others that people should pay tax in New Zealand even if it wasn’t earned here? Is she? Because that is what she seems to be saying.

Then her second tick is a complete failure. She claims New Zealand “doesn’t have agreements in place with many of the South and Central American countries”. Obviously this brilliant, award-winning journalist didn’t bother checking with IRD or looking up IRD’s website where they outline many Caribbean, Central and South American countries that we have agreements with.

Tax information exchange agreements

TIEAs allow the exchange of information for tax purposes between two jurisdictions.

New Zealand has TIEAs in force with:

New Zealand has TIEAs that are signed, but not yet in force, with:

New Zealand is currently negotiating TIEAs with:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Aruba
  • Grenada
  • Macao
  • Monaco
  • Montserrat
  • Nauru
  • St Lucia
  • San Marino
  • Seychelles

 The very countries she moans about are also not even members of the OECD, except for Mexico. So she is deriding us for not having agreements with them when they aren’t part of the organisation that sets out the rules of engagement for such agreements. Her second tick is largely a bust.

Her third “tick” is that a lack of transparency is a factor but New Zealand is very transparent, especially with all the DTAs and the TIEAs in place.

Her fourth “tick” is claimed on the basis that she couldn’t see any activity, but she misses the point about the rules there and income attribution. The reason they don’t pay tax is there is no income earned in or from New Zealand based activities. It is for asset protection, in much the same way that Nicky Hager puts all his properties in a trust, and half of parliament for that matter. Just because a journalist doesn’t find evidence of something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.

I’ve seen no evidence that Andrea Vance flipped it up for Peter Dunne in order to get cabinet secrets out of him either. See where you end up when you make judgment calls like that.

If Andrea Vance is our top investigative journalist, and award-winning at that then New Zealand journalism is in a very sorry state.

 – TVNZ, OECD, IRD

 


THANK YOU for being a subscriber. Because of you Whaleoil is going from strength to strength. It is a little known fact that Whaleoil subscribers are better in bed, good looking and highly intelligent. Sometimes all at once! Please Click Here Now to subscribe to an ad-free Whaleoil.

  • Usaywot

    It would be very interesting to dig into Vance’s background. She’s Irish so why is she here? Where did she work before coming here? Why did she leave that employ? Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!

    • RightofSingapore

      She’s a former News of the World journalist. Nuff said.

      • That’s hardly evidence.

        • Brian Smaller

          But Pete, She has links to an organisation that was involved in actual illegal practices. According to Vance herself that is all that is needed as evidence now of wrongdoing.

          • Wheninrome

            Yes, links to that and links to hacked emails it is getting murkier and murkier, no wonder she wants to hunker down in her bunker.

          • All you had to tell me was that it just “looks bad”. After that, there is nothing I can say.

        • Keeping Stock

          Since when have the Andrea Vances and Nicky Hagers of this world needed evidence Pete? Despite that fact that it’s Privacy Week, they splash around the names and home addresses of people who have done, at this point in time, nothing wrong whatsoever.

          Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?

  • Paul

    So what are the appropriate authorities doing to track down the people who hacked and stole all this private information? Or is it ok because of who the victims are perceived to be?

  • Whitey

    I love that they have a “bunker”. Do you think it’s insulated with tinfoil to keep out the neo-liberal mind control rays?

    • Chris EM

      I reckon it’s just some sheets pulled over some tables and chairs to play their imaginary games in.

    • Rob

      I find it interesting that so far I have seen no comments on what must have been secret discussions/negotiations that went on prior to yesterdays disclosures between RNZ(State funded),TV1(State funded)and the horrible Hager hacker.

  • New Zealand……the tax haven for all New Zealanders! No capital gains tax and no inheritance tax.
    Truly, a land where you get rewarded for risk and can secure the future for your family when you pass on. Magic!

  • Crowgirl

    She stumbles st the first hurdle with the phrase “relevant income”. Income not earned in NZ is not relevant and not subject to taxation. They are numpties.

  • Sagacious Blonde

    So, where is the International mass of trained and skilled journalists, whipping up a foment over this worldwide travesty?
    More like a local, quarter-shot of decafe in a demitasse cup.

  • roxo

    So let me just try and make sense of this.

    A ex-pat Brit journalist known for involvement in illegal phone hacking is telling us about corruption! A man who deals in stolen data to make a living is telling us something is wrong. A newspaper headline tells us a deceased businessman legally had shares in a company, and the legal work was done by a company. And it is our Prime ministers fault that laws that were introduced 20 years before he became PM are inadequate for some people.

    Being a good Waitakere man I’ll give it a Yeah – Nah. And move on.

    • Wheninrome

      But of course this is all “Key” to the whole matter, and the key witness, and the key issue etc.,
      Innuendo is a wonderful tool for those too lazy or incompetent to make a living with good old fashioned hard work and “Honesty” which is of course “key” to having people believe what you are propounding.

      • Gaynor

        aaah yes innuendo! Like everyone involved using the word “perception” over and over. It is legal BUT perception is……

    • Catriona

      So Vance is a hacker is she? And she’s sitting in her ivory tower with Hagar pontificating on this dreadful business of whether NZ really is a tax haven and that it’s all that naughty boy, John Key’s fault.

  • Ross15

    I thought the OCED guys did an audit of the NZ regime a couple of years ago and all was in order. It was one of the first things John Key said when the issue was raised.
    I would take the OECD’s interpretation of their own rules well ahead of Vance/Hager any day of the week.

  • Graeme

    Do Vance and Hager have any idea who brought the legislation in in the first place, and now Key is being criticised for it.

  • Rebecca

    The “facts” I can see are:

    1) It is possible for dirty foreign money to be stashed in a NZ trust. It’s also possible for clean foreign money to be stashed in a NZ trust. I know wealthy foreigners who use NZ trusts for this exact purpose.

    2) Some lawyers and accountants earn good coin by persuading foreigners that 1) is a good idea.

    The smear built on this seems to be:

    3) The possibility that dirty foreign money could be attracted by 2) above, means that NZ is a tax haven that is is an embarrassment for John Key and apparently the whole country.

    Not wanting to over-quote my grandfather- but he also used to say that if a dog barks on the street, there’s no obligation to run outside and bark back at it. Unfortunately this foolish media barking seems to be provoking all sorts of responses that it simply doesn’t deserve.

  • Wheninrome

    And now Elvis hasn’t left the room he was in Tauranga all this time, and allowing his home (not Gracelands) as an address for someone in the Panama Papers.

  • Bombastic

    I forced myself to watch Vance splutter her way through yesterday’s update on the media’s investigation into lawful business practices. I was left none the wiser as to what she was on about. Now I’m completely baffled by why they felt the need to build a bunker on Wellington. Are the media at war with someone?

  • McGrath

    “All high-profile individuals, shamed by Panama Papers revelations”

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry when the best they could do in the Herald was “Panama Papers: NZ Elvis Impersonator named in leak”.

  • Catriona

    So I’m googling Andrea Vance to see what stuff she’s made of. All I can find is her twitter profile and her Linked in Profile. I don’t want to go sifting around her Linkedin Profile as she’ll see who I am. Oh and she won a Fairfax Report of the Year 2014 – Police I think. Is Andrea Vance just another two-bit reporter who just happens to have made the switch to TV One? Is she a Political Analyst? A Lawyer? An Accountant or what? Because at this stage I am finding it hard to hang on every word she says. She obviously has an agenda – but she certainly won’t change the political landscape on my behalf or a good deal others I suspect. Hagar has brainwashed her and that says it all really.

    • Gladwin

      I understand she;s ex NOTW but one mustn’t make any judgement calls if that’s correct.

  • jv7

    Vance and Hagar are providing brilliant o/s advertising for Bentleys and Mr Thompson.
    And Peter Dunne’s comments confirm what a total tragic he is..

    • R&BAvenger

      Why are they getting comment from the former Revenue Minister? Oh, that’s because he’s not National.

  • Karma

    So Andrea Vance and Nicky Hager know better than the OECD? As far as I can tell, the only thing NZ is haven for is third rate journalism.

  • Wheninrome

    “Barry Soper: Politicians in the dark about Panama papers content”.
    This can’t be, with all the spying going on (according to labour and the greens) nothing is sacred the Government must know what is going on in everyone’s bank accounts, accountant’s files, lawyer’s files.
    You cannot have it both ways, they either know because they spy on you, or they don’t know so therefore are not spying on you.

  • Christie

    The OECD’s first criteria: No or nominal taxes on the relevant income.

    TICK.

    What?

    Tax on income in a foreign trust in NZ is at the rate of 45%.

    But if the assets in the trust are income producing, and the income is produced in a foreign country, there is no tax liability in New Zealand.

    Cameron – you are absolutely correct. With a rate of 45%, this can hardly be viewed as a tax haven. So called journalists are concluding that trusts are automatically used for tax avoidance. They are primarily used for asset protection. I would never advise anyone to use a trust for tax minimisation – because trusts are taxed at the highest rates in the country.

    These media people simply do not understand what they are dealing with, and jump to conclusions that all simply fallacious.

  • JustanObserver

    Vance on TV1 news last night being asked by Simon Dallow
    “So Andrea, why should New Zealanders be so concerned about these Panama revelations ?”
    . . . Vance couldn’t hardly get her words out . . .
    “This has gone beyond what is legal, it becomes a Moral issue … ”
    .
    ‘Never mind that I am using stolen data, I have upstanding Morals’

    • Gladwin

      Yes he can be Shallow Dallow at the appropriate times

    • R&BAvenger

      It has gone beyond what is legal, because nothing illegal is happening, therefore we have to resort saying it’s a moral issue. The reason for that is we have nothing, apart from an Elvis impersonator in Auckland, who may have done something dodgy.

      • The only illegal activity is the hacking of private data which is then being fenced out through “technically journalists”

    • It hasn’t gone beyond what is legal, it never got to what is legal (or illegal) in the first place.

  • Ben

    If one reads overseas media reports the Panama papers get scarcely a mention and NZ does not feature at all. This is a massive beat up on the part of Hager and mates with little substance. Nothing I have heard so far causes me any feeling of shame or embarrassment and I wish people like Vance would stop speaking on my behalf.

    • David Moore

      Exactly. As a wise lawyer once said;

      If the law is on your side, bang the law;
      If the facts are on your side, bang the facts;
      If nothing is on your side, bang the table.

      Vance and Hager are banging the table.

    • Oh Please

      BBC news website doesn’t mention NZ at all. A farce and all it achieves is to make NZ look stupid. Well done Vance and Hagar, you’ve brought us down to your level.

  • Gladwin

    It’s possible she might have made herself scarce with all the NOTW lawsuits.

  • twittertit

    This is all a joke isn’t it? I see the front page of the Herald as of 10am, links the Panama Papers to an Elvis impersonator.

    Is this for real? I mean, are we meant to take this a serious journalism??????

    I really feel for young graduate journalists if this is what they have as role models.

    • oldmanNZ

      nZherald is a tabloid, there main popular stories would be about Lorde and the Kardasians,
      they should have page 3 girls if they really want to offend.

    • Boondecker

      Indeed. I got a Herald alert on my iPhone about half an hour ago about the Elvis impersonator link. I also got the impression it was going to state they had found Elvis alive and well here in NZ whilst dodging his US tax bill.

  • Catriona

    Where to heck is Michael Cullen for comment about this shocking tax haven biz when you need him?

    • R&BAvenger

      I hope Hosking or Henry arrange an interview with Sir Michael, as the architect of these laws, his comment should be sought.

      • Sagacious Blonde

        Sir Geoffrey Palmer too!

    • sheppy

      Maybe he has a trust on the list and as such is hiding behind the lefts shield of sanctimony?

  • Cadwallader

    A link has been uncovered between the Panamanian law firm and the late Allan Hubbard…now this is really going to worry him! What farcical garbage this is!

    • Oh Please

      Just seems to support Key taking the action he did against Hubbard’s business.

    • Genevieve

      I had to laugh at the Herald’s piece about the link with the bankrupt Elvis impersonator from Tauranga.
      ‘I’m all shook up’ over these Panama Papers revelations.

      • Catriona

        HA! HA! Obviously the Herald thinks we’re all a pack of idiots and gullible and believe this crazy stuff. When’s the next full moon?

  • Mike Houlding

    How about some serious investigative journalism into secret trusts held by so called charities, ie, Greenpeace, or about secret trusts held by top entertainers (remember the 1960’s Beatles song The Taxman?). As is always the case “investigative journalism” only works when its targets are ideologically positioned.

  • Boondecker

    The TVNZ news coverage of the busy little bee journos (and Hager) all working hunched around a circular table in a tiny office, scratching over piles of print outs, looking jaded albeit faux-focused and eagerly pointing at each others laptops in over-the-top enthusiastic concern for the cameras that was shown last night, for what seemed at least the first five minutes with a voice over on the bulletin, was frankly just beyond the ridiculous – especially when you consider the outcome of all this is nothing but more leftie-driven attempted and failed hit job hot air and drivel.

    What a waste of everyones time and effort. How disappointing it must be for them.

    • Old Dig

      They don’t understand that most people aren’t interested in this.
      Is NZ a tax Haven? I couldn’t care less if it is.

  • Vutekno

    What I like about this hopeless chapter of ” Dirty Politics” is that we know all the names of those involved in delivering this rubbish. We should not forget these names and apply the appropriate level of faith in any future utterances from them.
    Edit: word added

  • CJA

    Okay if I’m reading things right (please someone correct me if I have missed the large smoking gun) she states that a New Zealand trust does not pay any income tax on income earnt overseas. Now in all my years of accounting have I been doing it wrong when I have been accounting for overseas income in trust’s accounts and tax returns? Do I need to get all those 1,000’s of tax returns reassessed? As far as I was aware any New Zealand tax resident (be it individual, partnership, trust or company) accounts for it’s worldwide income. What a bunch of rubbish.

    • Catriona

      You should be offering Andrea Vance a position as Auditor General in your company then. She’s a whizz bang when it comes to understanding the intricasies of NZ / International tax laws. She’ll make sure everything is squeaky clean and above board.

  • Dave

    Kiwis, you have all been taken for a ride – all of you. The notion the panama papers will damage NZ internationally, are gone. “The Australian” one of the top business / political papers in Australia, rates the issue so highly, they devoted a total of approx 75 sq CM and about 100 words to it, and a lot of that is a photo of John Key. (Pic)

    Can A (d) Vance, Commie Dann and Hager please all stand up, take a bow so Kiwis all know how pathetic your attempt at a smear really was. Massive fail guys.

    Maybe Hager can hack the Cook Islands Government soon to forecast the doom and gloom of a coconut shortage, and the effect on NZ from a shortage of Curry.

    • Boondecker

      Was that what Little was rabbiting on yesterday to Hosking. You know, the “international embarrassment” issue he spoke so emphatically on about. What’s embarrassing is how little 75 sq cm is. Sigh.

  • Seriously?

    At the moment there is zero evidence that any tax, in any jurisdiction, has been avoided let alone evaded using trusts set up in New Zealand.

  • Boondecker

    You give her far too much credit. She is just yet another ambitious political reporter who wants to be in with a big scoop to further her journalistic career. Nothing wrong with that, it just that we’ve seen ’em before. HDPA was one at one stage remember. What these journos (I’m excluding Hager because he isn’t one) need to know is that in their job, chasing too many parked cars usually eventually leads to a nasty nose bleed.

  • Rebecca

    I’ve just been shown promotional material from one of the New Zealand Foreign Trust fixers.

    The promotion is that foreign income is exempt NZ tax unless distributed to a local. Meanwhile NZ income is to be avoided or carefully managed to avoid being taxed twice, when earned and again when distributed.

    IOW the purpose definitely is for foreign entities to settle funds in NZ, without other connection to NZ.

    The boast is that minimal record-keeping and reporting requirements apply to NZ
    Foreign Trusts apart from name, details of the trustees and whether there’s an Aussie involved so they can be told. You do need basic record keeping if you’re investigated- unless you have a professional NZ-qualified trustee or director.

    It appears the professional trustee is a main attraction, since it reduces potential IRD oversight in exchange for a fat fee.

    Curiously, penalties for non-compliance don’t apply if the settlor or resident trustee says s/he didn’t know. This gives Foreign Trusts a strange advantage over Kiwis who can’t claim ignorance to avoid IRD penalties.

    Seems to me that the ignorance defense definitely needs to go, as its only purpose seems to be a defense against improper concealment. Also it’s fair enough to ask why kiwis (apart from the resident fixers earning fat fees) want these trusts to exist.

  • niggly

    More rubbish journalism from Andrea Vance – totally inaccurate, misleading and simply “made up”. Then not only smearing law abiding citizens she is dragging what’s left of ‘journalistic integrity” down into the gutter with her.

    Perhaps the WOBH crew could lay a complaint with the Broadcasting Standards Authority against these numpties (seeing Cameron wrote a clearly concise and articulate article (“So is NZ a tax haven?”) demolishing Andrea Vance’s deliberately biased, misleading and manufactured opinions which she tries to present as “facts”)?

    http://bsa.govt.nz/complaints/making-a-complaint

  • Dave

    Hey Hager, Vance and Commie Dan – This is what a Tax Haven looks like, just seems a bit different from downtown Onehunga, Khandallah, or even Remuera.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Monaco

    • Murray Pratt

      I was in Monaco a couple of years ago. If this is what a tax haven is like, we should speed things up.

  • Murray Pratt

    Yep, looks like Vance and Hager have uncovered some terrible work done by the Labour party here. Just as well John Key tighten this up a bit in 2011.

  • CJA

    Reading it back that is probably right. Think she should have been a bit clearer.

  • Tiger

    Tip Andrea: When you shame these “high profile individuals” you better make sure that you use concrete evidence of illegality than your “morals” as I am sure some lawyers will otherwise be printing out screeds of paper with your name under “defendant”!

  • zotaccore

    Why is it that this amateur journalist Andrea Vance’s name always appears when there is a perceived problem (with anything!). Is there something wrong with her? Aside from leaning to the loony left does she actually know anything or is speculation and assumption her only set of skills. Strange person she is.

  • Nebman

    I’m even more underwhelmed by their big reveal than I was with the Moment of Truth.

    In short: Is that it?

53%