Panama Papers: New Zealand is the go-to money launderer for crooked Latin Americans

A joint report by RNZ, TVNZ and Nicky Hager accuses New Zealand of being at the heart of a gigantic money-laundering operation for the corrupt elites of Latin America.

The reporters analyzed 61,000 Panama Papers documents that showed the use of "shelf companies" (companies that are formed and shelved for easy use later) through the Auckland bagman Roger Thompson (formerly of Staples Rodway, now of Bentleys Chartered Accountants, which shares an office with Mossack-Fonseca's NZ headquarters).

They found that Thompson fronted thousands of foreign trusts whose beneficiaries were rich people from Latin America, including members of Mexico's high society; an Israeli arm dealer who sells into the Mexican market; the president of Venezuela's Italcambio bank; a would-be Brazilian illegal chemical exporter; and many other unsavory, wealthy individuals.

NZ Prime Minister John Key has stalled on taking any action to shut down or kerb his country's lucrative money laundering operation.

Mr Thompson is often the sole New Zealand director of the local companies alongside two Panamanian directors. A further Bentleys company, Orion Trust (New Zealand) Limited, is used over and over as a nominee office holder in foreign trusts and companies.

The trusts set up have anonymous names such as The Eden Trust, The Oslo Trust, The Milfington Trust and the Omicron Trust…

…Prime Minister John Key said Inland Revenue would follow up any revelations from the Panama Papers involving New Zealand, but was rejecting calls for the industry to be shut down.

"It would be, I think be a dangerous decision to make as a knee-jerk reaction just to ban a foreign trust overnight, because we have very good tax rules, they're integrated rules and they're respected around the world."

NZ at heart of Panama money-go-round
[Gyles Beckford, Patrick O'Meara, Jane Patterson, Lee Taylor, Jessica Mutch, Andrea Vance, & Nicky Hager/Radio New Zealand, TV New Zealand]

(via Naked Capitalism)