New Zealand sets up trust register to curb tax evasion, money laundering
13 Jul 2016

New Zealand said on Wednesday it will introduce a registry of foreign trusts that local tax and law enforcement agencies could use to investigate suspected money laundering and tax evasion.

The registry was recommended after an independent review by accountant John Shewan last month, in the wake of the Panama Papers revelations, who found the trusts were open to being used to hide illicit funds and tax abuse.

Professional trust formation agents and lawyers were waiting to see whether the ramped-up disclosure rules would scare off foreign clients who had favoured the trusts for their secrecy.

New Zealand has long been identified as offering a trust regime popular with the offshore trust business. The tax department recommended a review of taxation of foreign trusts in 2014, though this did not take place at the time.

Finance Minister Bill English said the register would “ensure that our foreign trust disclosure rules are strengthened and New Zealand’s reputation is protected.”

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