Tax Havens Among Biggest Foreign Owners of NZ
The Panama Papers have shone a most welcome (and long overdue) light into the murky world of tax havens, offshore trusts
and shell companies.
It is worth noting that two notorious tax havens – the British Virgin Island and the Cayman Islands – are among the top
foreign owners of New Zealand companies. In both cases, they rank ahead of China, just to put it into perspective.
So who are the actual owners? They, of course, remain hidden or even “confidential”, because that is the purpose of tax
Who knows what dirty money and ill gotten gains, and from whom and from where, might be coming into New Zealand via
these tax havens.
But does the Government care? Of course not, because it is “foreign investment”, which must, by definition, be a good
thing. Don’t ask, don’t tell.
Here is the relevant extract from CAFCA’s newly updated Key Facts.
Statistics NZ figures, as of March 2015, list the biggest foreign owners of New Zealand companies as being from, in
decreasing order: Australia, US, Hong Kong, UK, Singapore, Japan, Canada, Netherlands, British Virgin Islands, Ireland, Cayman Islands, China, Switzerland, Norway and France. All had over $160m in foreign direct investment in New Zealand. These accounted
for 96% of foreign direct investment in New Zealand and Australia alone accounts for 52%. British Virgin Islands and Cayman Islands are tax havens, and a Statistics New Zealand study showed that in 2010, large proportions of the foreign direct investment from the
Netherlands, Singapore, Hong Kong and tax havens was in fact from other countries, led by the UK, US, Germany and Canada. In 2015, Other tax havens with investments in New Zealand companies include Vanuatu, Channel Islands, Liechtenstein, Bermuda and the Bahamas, but
for all except Bermuda, the value of their holdings has been suppressed as “confidential”. Bermuda has shown a negative investment in New Zealand companies since 2009 (negative $1.8 billion in 2015). So has Germany since 2013. Negative
investment suggests that the companies may have been loaded with debt to their parents or are technically insolvent.
The full Key Facts complete with sources (meticulously researched and compiled by CAFCA’s Bill Rosenberg), can be read