Inland Revenue probes exposure to offshore law firm scandal

by Sol Dolor08 Nov 2017
New Zealand taxpayers are being advised by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) to voluntarily come forward if they have exposure to the law firm Appleby, which is currently at the centre of the “Paradise Papers” scandal.

“We have a strong focus on international tax compliance by New Zealand taxpayers. It would be prudent for anyone involved to come forward and explain their position to us so we can assess whether the correct amount of tax has been applied,” said John Nash, international revenue strategy manager. “We will examine any intelligence we receive about New Zealand taxpayers and check whether it aligns with their previous tax return positions and disclosures.”

A major part of the “Paradise Papers” data is said to have originated from top offshore law firm Appleby. German publication Süddeutsche Zeitung, which also acquired the “Panama Papers” in 2016, is said to be in possession the trove of 13.4m documents from Appleby, corporate services firms Estera and Asiaciti trust, and the business registries of 19 tax jurisdictions.

Details from the documents, which contain the identities of 120,000 people and companies connected to around US$10 trillion in assets, have been gradually published by Süddeutsche Zeitung, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), and other media outfits.

IRD said that the Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC), of which New Zealand is a member, is already using the same methods applied last year to analyse the information from the “Panama Papers” incident.

IRD said that it is working closely with relevant agencies and international treaty partners. However, it won’t publicly discuss the affairs of any taxpayer revealed in the data.

Appleby has denied any wrongdoing and said their data was obtained in a cyberattack last year.

“Appleby has thoroughly and vigorously investigated the allegations and we are satisfied that there is no evidence of any wrongdoing, either on the part of ourselves or our clients. We refute any allegations which may suggest otherwise and we would be happy to cooperate fully with any legitimate and authorised investigation of the allegations by the appropriate and relevant authorities,” the firm said.

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