Claire Trevett is the New Zealand Herald’s deputy political editor.

Prime Minister John Key declares deposit in company specialising in foreign trusts

Ken Whitney, the executive director at Antipodes Trust Group, is Mr Key's private lawyer. Photo / Getty Images
Ken Whitney, the executive director at Antipodes Trust Group, is Mr Key's private lawyer. Photo / Getty Images

Prime Minister John Key has declared a short-term deposit in a trustee company which specialises in foreign trusts and provides legal services for Mr Key.

The short term deposit in the Antipodes Trust Group was included in his entry for debtors in the Register of Pecuniary Interests which has just been released. There are no overseas trusts listed in his entry.

A spokeswoman for Mr Key said Ken Whitney, the executive director at Antipodes Trust, was Mr Key's private lawyer. Mr Whitney had previously worked at Ross + Whitney but moved to Antipodes Trust last year.

Since becoming Prime Minister, Mr Key has put his investments in a blind trust, the Aldgate Trust. He is also a beneficiary of the Key family trust.

The declaration comes in the wake of questions about the Panama Papers which identified New Zealand as a key area for international bigwigs seeking to avoid taxes.

Mr Key has appointed tax specialist John Shewan to review New Zealand's position on foreign trusts.

The Antipodes Trust Group describes itself as "a specialist provider of trustee services for foreign trusts using New Zealand as their jurisdiction of choice."

On its website home page, Antipodes Trust Group says New Zealand offers a "tax neutral environment for New Zealand based foreign trusts which are a well-established vehicle for carefully managing the inter-generational transfer of wealth".

It points to the tax-free benefits, as well as the lack of inheritance taxes and laws that protect client confidentiality and "limited" reporting requirements which mean the identities of settler and beneficiaries do not need to be disclosed.

The entry in the MPs' register also shows Mr Key has disposed of an apartment in London which he has owned since entering Parliament.

His gifts register ranges from a framed oil painting by William Tseng, to pen and coin sets from the Prime Minister of Kuwait, and numerous helicopter rides and golf games in New Zealand, including two helicopter trips to Kauri Cliffs courtesy of richlister Trevor Farmer, one to Tara Iti from DB Breweries, and three helicopter rides and golf outings to Wairakei from Alloy Yachts' richlister Gary Lane.

- NZ Herald

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