As usual, The Wire summed it up best:
You follow drugs, you get drug addicts and drug dealers. But you start to follow the money, and you don’t know where the fuck it’s gonna take you.
Nicky Hager has a post up on Pundit about his involvement with the Panama Papers:
News has been coming out of Washington DC recently of a massive leak of tax haven information. I have spent the past 15 months working on this project, helping to dig through the leaked material to find what should be publicised. It is probably the most secret financial information to reach the public and I hope it will be interesting to share some of the story.
It is a very good time to be shining a light on tax havens. These legal black holes are dotted around the world, partly helping people avoid tax (the traditional picture) but also helping all sorts of people and companies keep their business and crimes secret.
So that’s a fun guessing game for John Shewan as he undertakes his review of our trust laws. There haven’t been any big stories about New Zealand yet. Is that because there aren’t any? Or is that because Nicky Hager is going to write a book about all the New Zealand material?
(Update: My mistake: the Pundit piece by Hager is actually relating to a different tax story three years ago!)
Mike Hosking interviewed John Key yesterday on this subject yesterday. This little snippet about Key’s own financial arrangements intrigued me:
Hosking: Nothing in there that’s going to embarrass you?
Key: Nothing in Panama. No.
Okay then. Key also claims that his assets are in a blind trust, so he doesn’t know what’s in it, so there can’t be any conflicts of interest. That claim has always annoyed me. Key’s trustees don’t liquidate his assets into cash and then reinvest them as soon as they’re signed over to them. If Key owned, say, shares in a property investment company before he became Prime Minister, he still knows that he owns them, even if he doesn’t know their exact worth. But the public can’t see that he does, and Key can pretend that there isn’t a conflict of interest because it is a ‘blind trust’.
In terms of Key’s reversal from last week on whether our trusts need investigation, I wonder if National now have a formal process in which they respond to breaking stories like this. Phase one. Deny everything while blaming Labour. Stage two. Poll. Stage three. If the polling hits some pre-arranged benchmark then reverse your position and/or announce an inquiry.