For not the first time in the last few months, revelations of large sums of money being hidden in New Zealand because of our lax laws, have been revealed. The claims come at the end of a week where Prime Minister John Key’s lawyer Ken Whitney was found to have lobbied extensively to get the Government to drop a review into the laws around foreign trusts. Whilst unlikely to change anything in terms of getting a law change enacted, the new revelations will be further munition for the Opposition.
National claims to be taking the matter seriously. This is a claim that depends entirely on whom one talks to. From the perspective of a New Zealander wanting all taxpayers, corporate or not, to be treated equally before the law, I beg to differ. From the perspective of one who thinks there is much to be gained from cracking down hard on money laundering, and large scale illegal appropriation or other use of money, again I beg to differ. You cannot tell me this Government is taking the matter seriously when individuals are able put nine digit sums of money into a New Zealand bank account so that authorities cannot find it.
New Zealand will be a stronger nation of better repute than it is now, when the law is such that criminals determine it is not worthwhile using New Zealand bank accounts, for the activities of the like described above.
It should be a first term priority to crack down on this sort of behaviour, not least because the law abiding tax paying individuals/companies/corporates that operate in New Zealand deserve to know there is not one law for them and another for tax evaders. I doubt that unless this problem gets so bad that it could cost National the election, that it will be dealt with, and even then it is possible that because of historical odds not favouring a fourth term Government, it may be put into the “too hard basket”.
Well done to Labour, New Zealand First and the Greens for putting the acid on the Government. However this is still in its early days and none of the parties have given a clear indication other than wanting an inquiry about what they might do about changing the law. All three parties need to stage a co-ordinated offensive, and seek opportunities for an urgent debate should any particularly damning revelations arise. And if National does – probably for the sake of political expediency – agree to an inquiry, consideration about how to implement the recommendations should be given.