Steve Braunias' Secret Diary of The Panama Papers

I smelled smoke, and turned around. I'd left the iron on the suit " while the gent was still wearing it! Photo / AP
I smelled smoke, and turned around. I'd left the iron on the suit " while the gent was still wearing it! Photo / AP

John Key

At the end of the day I always tell people who are thinking of taking advantage of our wide and personally tailored range of tax havens in New Zealand, "Look, I'm sorry, but we don't actually operate like that."

And then I pick up their luggage, and I carry on the conversation in the elevators of power.

"But the weather's certainly very nice," I tell them. "We have long hot summers. But not too hot! You and I both know there's nothing in this global warming hoax.

"But even if it does get a bit hot, don't worry, because we have a very elaborate system of shelters.

"They'll shelter you from the sun. They'll shelter you from the rain. They'll shelter you from anything you care to name, because all of our shelters are buried deep under the ground."

They usually just stand there in silence and wait for me to push the button that goes up to the penthouse suite.

Once we're in their room, I lay out chocolate on their pillow, and get to grips with the ironing board. There's nothing I can't tell you about the best ways to iron a Saudi dishadasha robe or an Ermenegildo Zegna suit made in Switzerland.

I remember telling one swarthy gent, "I can print out a map and directions for you in a variety of languages and numerical codes. You'll get the hang of our shelters. And once you're inside, no one will ever knock on the door."

Just then there was a knock on the door.

A voice said, "We're from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists looking at the issue of tax havens."

"Wrong room," I said. "You'll be wanting Iceland. They're down the hall."

I smelled smoke, and turned around. I'd left the iron on the suit " while the gent was still wearing it!

Prince Luigi de la Bastard

I have the burn mark on my thigh to this day. I could remove it with the best corrective surgery that money can buy but I leave it there as a symbol of the struggles I have to suffer as one of the world's richest men.

Few people understand the world that I live in and the secrets I have to maintain. The deceptions. The shame. The sense of being haunted by something nameless.

Never mind! I get together with those few people every now and then, and we have a good old laugh about it.

We compare notes on our shelters, and toast each other's health. I remember one particular mansion. It had mirrors on the ceiling, and pink champagne on ice. We were all just prisoners there of our own device. I think it was in Queenstown.

"Here's to New Zealand," said a securities trader.

"May it prosper," said a drug baron.

"But not at our expense," said a Russian.

We made small talk about such topics as the best markets to exploit cheap foreign labour, and how much to donate to Donald Trump.

"What if he doesn't get in?" worried a small arms dealer.

"It will be a tragedy," said a big arms dealer.

"In this world," said another Russian, "nothing can be said to be certain, except death."

There was a silence. And then I said, "Isn't there something else that's said to be certain?"

But no one could think what that could be.

Debate on this article is now closed.

- NZ Herald

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