The government is in for a fight when parliament sits on Tuesday.
Foreign trusts, the prime minister’s integrity, departmental incompetence and a suspect land deal – it’s all there and Labour and the Greens are locked and loaded.
It all ties back to the Panama Papers, the millions of documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca, the law firm that specialises in setting up foreign trusts.
It was those documents that led Labour’s David Cunliffe to discover the identity of the buyers of Onetai Station in Taranaki.
They were Argentinian brothers Rafael and Federico Grozovsky, operating through a company called Ceol and Muir.
They were Mossack Fonseca clients, which didn’t mean they’d been involved in anything illegal but inevitably raised suspicions.
The Overseas Investment Office, which investigates applications to buy big slices of farmland (1320ha in this case) gave the Grozovsky brothers the green light in 2013.
They bought the station in 2014, and made no secret of it. Local beef farmers were taken on as advisors, they aimed to increase production.
So far so good. Prime Minister John Key says the Mossack Fonseca connection was irrelevant.
There’s no claim or evidence they used a foreign trust to pay for the station and the deal was handled this end by law firm Kensington Swan.
All hot air? Or is there more? Read more »