Community campaigning group ActionStation supports the recommendations of the Shewan Review into New Zealand’s trust laws and say the proposed register of trusts should be publically accessible, as per option 3 in the options for reform of the trust laws.
Spokesperson for the organisation, Ryan Mearns, says; “The Shewan Review has shown that our trust laws are completely inadequate. The Government should adopt all recommendations made in the review, especially the need for a publicly available register of beneficial owners of trusts. This is needed urgently to clear up the reputational damage that has been done by the Panama Papers, showing New Zealand is being used as a tax haven.”
The group released UMR polling data in April showing more than half of New Zealanders are concerned about New Zealand being a tax haven and more than twice as many people think the Government is handling the issue poorly than think it is being handled well.
Mr Mearns: “The poll showed that like ActionStation members, a majority of New Zealanders are concerned about sloppy trust laws, left open by the current and former governments. To restore public trust, the Government needs to accept the recommendations of the Shewan review.”
“All information on a trust, including the trust's settlors, protector, non-resident trustees, and beneficiaries should disclose their name, email address, foreign address, country of tax residence, and tax numbers at the time of registration should be made publically accessible to ensure there is transparency in our trust system.”
“The Government shouldn’t have needed this amount of public outcry or an inquiry to see that our trust system was broken. To restore the public's trust the Government must act quickly to adopt all recommendations made in the shewan reviews report” says Mr Mearns.