A New Zealander has fronted as a director for thousands of shell companies revealed in the leaked Panama Papers as being tax havens for the world's ultra rich.

Ian Taylor is listed as the director of thousands of companies identified in the 11 million leaked documents from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca that show how foreign investors can hide their income in secretive trusts.

The Panama Papers explained (with piggy banks).

Taylor was identified by ABC's Four Corners show as a "shady New Zealander" who has been living in Australia for the last ten years.

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Taylor and his father have been embroiled in scandal previously when one of their shell companies was linked to a plane that was stopped en route to Iran with millions of dollars of illegal arms supplied from North Korea on board.

In the Four Corners piece Gerard Ryle, director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism, said Taylor was among the people who around the world who rented their names to companies that needed directors in tax havens.

Listen to CNN's Richard Quest discuss the Panama Papers with Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking:

"Ian Taylor will be the director of thousands of companies around the world and he won't have a clue what any of those companies are doing," he told ABC.

Taylor met Four Corners journalist Marian Wilkinson, but would not be interviewed for the piece.

"He admitted acting as a nominee director and shareholder on hundred of tax haven companies, but he also claimed his passport and identity had been stolen and used to forge directorships in Eastern Europe," Wilkinson said.

ABC reported that Australian Federal Police had recently questioned Taylor on behalf of Romanian authorities.

New Zealand was identified as a tax haven where foreign investors can hide their income in secretive trusts, but Prime Minister John Key said the Panama Papers revelations won't force the Government to change any tax rules.

Listen to Massey University tax expert Deborah Russell discuss the New Zealand implications of the Panama Papers here:

New Zealand-based trusts were implicated in a political scandal in Malta after the leak included information about a Maltese Government minister having a trust in New Zealand, where no tax would be paid.


"It's shameful for New Zealand to be caught up in international tax avoidance," Deborah Russell from Massey's School of Accountancy said yesterday.

"The loophole in our laws that allows New Zealand foreign trusts to escape taxation has been known about for years, but nothing has been done to shut it down. This makes us complicit in schemes to avoid tax," she said.

Mike's Minute: Panama Papers

The real tragedy in this ?Panama Papers? case is that nothing will be done about it. Unless they're involved in genocide, the truly powerful will never be held accountable for their actions.