RNZ has an overview of the NZ based Panama Papers documents here. The gist is that Mossack Fonseca has a New Zealand office run by a former IRD staffer called Roger Thompson, and markets itself mainly to wealthy Central and South Americans. This made me smile.
Roger Thompson rebutted any notion that the trusts and companies his company set up were used to dodge taxes, and said claims they were had been exaggerated.
“I don’t see NZ is a tax haven. I would describe it as a high quality jurisdiction for trusts with a benign tax system in certain circumstances.
Revenue Minister Michael Woodhouse is using much the same line, his quote on the RNZ audio went something like, ‘New Zealand is definitely not an offshore tax haven because we demand disclosure and charge tax on trusts, except for foreign trusts which are none of our business.’
No explanation yet of why Key was singled out by ‘John Doe’, or if any New Zealanders avoiding tax are implicated in the overall document release. Although, obviously, if they were it probably wouldn’t be via New Zealand.