Panama Papers: New Zealand a 'very nice front for criminals'

One of the journalists behind the massive Panama Papers leak says New Zealand is well known as a "very nice front for criminals" because of its legislation around foreign trusts.

Director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Gerard Ryle, told Radio New Zealand this morning that New Zealand's foreign trust regime is "very easy".

The Panama Papers was a leak of 11.5 millions of documents from international law firm Mossack Fonseca relating to foreign trusts holding billions of dollars owned by significant people around the world.

"Mossack Fonseca were very active in New Zealand," Ryle told Radio New Zealand.

"It's well known among people who know these things that New Zealand is a really soft touch. It's very easy to set up companies. It's a first world country, so basically people don't think of bad things happening out of New Zealand.

"It's a very nice front for criminals."

Prime Minister John Key and Inland Revenue Minister Michael Woodhouse have both rejected the ICIJ's label of New Zealand as a tax haven.

Today the Guardian reported all banks and financial firms in the UK have been told to hand over any information about their dealings with Mossack Fonseca to the UK's Financial Conduct Authority by a week on Friday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron is under increasing pressure after admitting he profited from his father's offshore trust fund identified in the Panama Papers.

- NZ Herald

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