Barry Soper: Politicians in dark over Panama papers

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Image / iStock
Image / iStock

There's an old political saying that knowledge is power and for once John Key didn't have the knowledge leaving a group of journalists with the power.

The group, broadcasters from state radio and telly, was anointed by Dirty Politics author Nicky Hager to get an early squiz at the so-called Panama papers.

The main new thing they've told us so far is that a hitherto unknown bean counter Roger Thompson, who used to count them for Inland Revenue, now has bigger and more lucrative beans to count for tax wiring company Mossack Fonseca. He's their go to man in God's Own if you want to wire a foreign trust through this country.

Thompson insists the proliferation of trusts here, as far as he's concerned, aren't about helping people to illegally hide their assets.

They're all about people from dodgy countries, where there's a prevalence, of say kidnapping or blackmail, wanting to secure their assets. Or those who want to make sure their assets when they die go to the right people, rather than being seized by the state.

So it's all hunky-dory. Well from his perspective it may be but he's obviously not responsible for every one of the almost 12,000 trusts that are wired through this country.

Even though he's in the dark about the content of the Panama papers, Key's defended the transparency of this country's tax record which he says has been given a clean bill of health from the OECD.

Just to be sure he's on top of today's dump of papers though, he's announced what sounded like the SAS of the public service, setting up what he describes as a crack squad of IRD officials to pore over them.

READ MORE: Panama Papers: You can now search the secret accounts of the global rich yourself

Labour's Andrew Little may also have been kept in the dark, but the lack of knowledge hasn't stopped him from threatening the power of the state, saying give him Key's job and he'll ban foreign trusts, even though Labour established them in the first place.

And the man who presided over them as Revenue Minister up until a few years back, Peter Dunne, says the perception of us being a tax haven is not good for our international reputation. He hung IRD out to dry, saying when he was their minister, they didn't raise any concerns with him.

While our politicians beat the tom-tom drum, it seems for the most part our own taxation base is secure. So why worry? The Cayman Islands prides itself on being seen as a tax haven for the American elite and multinationals.

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- NZME.

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