Mossack Fonseca's man in New Zealand speaks

Roger Thompson says painting of New Zealand as a tax haven has been grossly exaggerated.
Roger Thompson says painting of New Zealand as a tax haven has been grossly exaggerated.

Accountant Roger Thompson has offered a detailed response to his involvement with Mossack Fonseca's tax structures.

1. "Looking at the data it seems that a relatively small number of trusts or companies have been established in New Zealand that are related to Mossack Fonseca. I think the painting of New Zealand as a tax haven has been grossly exaggerated."

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2. "Like many accountants and lawyers I will accept professional director appointments for well-regarded clients after undertaking satisfactory due diligence."

3. "New Zealand citizens are possibly the most prolific users of trusts in the world. Business people commonly use trusts to separate private assets from business assets that may be at risk to business creditors, other people use trusts to keep family assets protected from claims from spouses or de facto relationships, spendthrift children etc...".

4. "The use of trusts for the purposes mentioned above is common practice and well accepted as legitimate."

5. "Wealthy people in other countries have these same reasons for using trusts. There may also be a prevalence of kidnapping and blackmail in their country of residence, forced heirship laws (lack of freedom to choose who inherits their wealth when they die) and possibility of arbitrary state seizure of assets. The family and their businesses may be spread geographically and be subject to multiple laws in multiple countries."

6. "New Zealand is attractive because we have good trust laws, a good independent non-corrupt judicial system and are stable economically and politically. Another key factor is that NZ does not impose an additional layer of tax on foreign income of trusts where the settler of the trust is non-resident."

7. "We do not assist people to illegally hide assets."

8. "Trust deeds are generally confidential documents which are not publicly available. However, whenever requested, we will provide copies of trust deeds to the Inland Revenue Department."

9. "The use of trusts and people's rights to keep their business and personal affairs private and confidential is legitimate and normal. Unfortunately this appears to have been overlooked by the journalists releasing personal and confidential information without any regard to personal rights."

10. ""Our due diligence process is of a high standard and includes verification of identity and residence from independent sources. We have rejected a small number in the past where we could not be satisfied as to the integrity of the client or the legitimacy of source of funds. This is generally due to not being able to obtain sufficient information rather than anything untoward."

• Mr Thompson's statement was made to Radio NZ and TVNZ in response to its questions about the Panama Papers.

- NZ Herald

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