This small, idyllic country is tangled in a web of hidden cash from wealthy Latin Americans channeling funds around the world, according to a new round of Panama Papers. As Tara Joseph reports, New Zealand ticks all the boxes for the shady world of offshore trusts.
It may be known for its stunning scenery and easy-going vibe But a new wave of the so-called Panama Papers paints New Zealand in a very different light. Tens of thousands of documents published on Monday link the country to a web of secretive shelf companies used by rich South Americans to dodge taxes and funnel cash around the world. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS CORRESPONDENT, CHARLOTTE GREENFIELD, SAYING: "A lot of New Zealand's appeal is that it has a really, really good reputation, nobody really thinks of it as being this offshore finance center a lot of countries especially since 9/11 have basically made the blacklist of hostile offshore centers that put up a bit of a red flag - so New Zealand is not on any of those blacklists." Local journalists with access to the Panama papers say foreign trusts in New Zealand have grown tenfold in the past decade. Mossack Fonseca - the Panama based law firm at the heart of the massive data leak - ramped up its interest in New Zealand three years ago, allegedly through this man Robert Thompson... He's listed more than 4-thousand times in the papers, and runs the accounting firm where Mossack-Fonseca New Zealand is registered. Prime Minister John Key insists his country is merely a footnote in the shady world of tax avoidance. (SOUNDBITE) (English) NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER, JOHN KEY, SAYING: "It's important to note the existing rules already require foreign trusts to be registered and to keep detailed financial and other records." But New Zealand has pledged to review its tax laws since the first round of Panama papers, which showed possible weak spots in its rules and regulations.