John Key’s personal lawyer cited a conversation with the Prime Minister when lobbying a Minister about a potential crackdown on the lucrative foreign trust industry.
Ken Whitney, the executive director of boutique trust specialist Antipodes, wrote to then-Minister for Revenue Todd McClay on December 3, 2014, over concerns Inland Revenue were sizing up the sector.
“We are concerned that there appears to be a sudden change of view by the IRD in respect of their previous support for the industry. I have spoken to the Prime Minister about this and he advised that the Government has no plans to change the status of the foreign trust regime,” Mr Whitney wrote in an email.
“The PM asked me to contact you to arrange a meeting at your convenience with a small group of industry leaders who are keen to engage to explain how the regime works and the benefits to NZ of an industry which has been painstakingly built up over the last 25 years or so.”
New Zealand’s trust regime recently made international headlines with the leak of the Panama Papers revealing the abuse of trust structures internationally by those seeking to launder money or avoiding tax.
If Key was a normal Minister there would be intense pressure on the PM to stand him down. Obviously he’s not, so we’ll go through a period of National loyalists and beltway types doing exaggerated eyerolling. ‘Of course the Prime Minister’s personal lawyer is a lobbyist for the offshore trust industry and used his influence to protect his highly unethical industry that provides no benefit to New Zealand. What’s wrong with that? That’s how politics works, dummies. Duh!’
Which, okay, that is how politics works here nowadays, but it doesn’t have to be, and voters have options for venting their displeasure. The story was broken by the Greens but the most likely beneficiary is going to be New Zealand First. Peters’ whole brand is ‘Winston will keep them honest.’ National believes there aren’t any consequences to their actions because Labour is dying, but all of this glib, corrupt buffoonery are locking them into a fourth term trying to run the country with Winston Peters.