Article by AsiaPacificReport.nz
The Panama Papers have shone a most welcome – and long overdue light into the murky world of tax havens, offshore trusts and shell companies, says a foreign ownership watchdog.
The Campaign Against Foreign Control of Aotearoa (CAFCA) said today in a statement two “notorious tax havens” – the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands – are among the top foreign owners of New Zealand companies.
“In both cases, they rank ahead of China, just to put it into perspective,” CAFCA said
“So who are the actual owners? They, of course, remain hidden or even ‘confidential’, because that is the purpose of tax havens,” said CAFCA coordinator Murray Horton.
“Who knows what dirty money and ill gotten gains, and from whom and from where, might be coming into New Zealand via these tax havens.
“But does the government care? Of course not, because it is ‘foreign investment’, which must, by definition, be a good thing. Don’t ask, don’t tell.”
New Zealand’s foreign control Key Facts:
“Statistics NZ figures, as of March 2015, list the biggest foreign owners of New Zealand companies as being from, in decreasing order: Australia, US, Hong Kong, UK, Singapore, Japan, Canada, Netherlands, British Virgin Islands, Ireland, Cayman Islands, China, Switzerland, Norway and France.
“All had over $160 million in foreign direct investment in New Zealand. These accounted for 96 percent of foreign direct investment in New Zealand and Australia alone accounts for 52 percent. British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands are tax havens, and a Statistics New Zealand study showed that in 2010, large proportions of the foreign direct investment from the Netherlands, Singapore, Hong Kong and tax havens was in fact from other countries, led by the UK, US, Germany and Canada.
“In 2015, Other tax havens with investments in New Zealand companies include Vanuatu, Channel Islands, Liechtenstein, Bermuda and the Bahamas, but for all except Bermuda, the value of their holdings has been suppressed as ‘confidential’.
“Bermuda has shown a negative investment in New Zealand companies since 2009 (negative $1.8 billion in 2015). So has Germany since 2013. Negative investment suggests that the companies may have been loaded with debt to their parents or are technically insolvent.”