Why you shouldn't let your country be run by merchant bankers (no that's not rhyming slang, although the meaning's effectively the same), number 3517859275 in a series.
So, back in 2014, international disquiet at NZ's foreign trust regime, specifically the lack of disclosure requirements that makes us barely distinguishable from offshore tax havens like the Cayman Islands, prompted the IRD to review the regulations relating to foreign trusts.
Those profiting from administering these foreign trusts include John Key's personal lawyer, Ken Whitney. Key duly received representations from Whitney about IRD's plans to wreck the profitability of the foreign trust industry via unfair practices like imposing genuine disclosure requirements on it.
Key directed Whitney to the relevant Minister, one Todd McClay. Apparently this was no more than the PM would do for any citizen, although it's unlikely McClay would respond to similar requests from citizens like you or me by coming cap-in-hand to our offices to hear what we and our colleagues had to tell him and make sure his department met our demands. Needless to say, the IRD didn't get to review the foreign trust rules.
Hooray, disastrous loss of profitability via the intrusion of good governance averted! Until the Panama Papers turned up, that is, and journo scum got hold of the story. Key had to get up in Parliament and spout laughable bullshit about our foreign trusts featuring "full disclosure," being "world class" and any Opposition members saying otherwise must be "barking mad."
I expect he wished he hadn't said those things when the polling showed most people are able to figure out when there's a bad smell under their nose. Now he had to assign someone to review our foreign trust rules, and putting Ken Whitney in charge of it wouldn't really be an option.
Fortunately the fuss had died down by the time the review was finished and found that, hey, you know what? Our foreign trust rules are anything but "world class," and that, far from offering "full disclosure," they conceal the identities of the foreigners involved, which means the industry Key's pal Whitney went to such trouble to defend is quite likely providing vehicles for criminal activity (not that we have any means of knowing for sure, thanks to Whitney and Key's sterling efforts to ensure nothing so inconvenient as good governance should afflict the country).
I like it when stuff like this comes out, because it highlights what a bunch of shitweasels the country's ruling class actually consists of, but at the same time, it's depressing to think about how much of it we never actually find out about.
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