Media beatup over Key pecuniary interest

Media have run an alarming beat up out of a declaration by John Key revealed in the latest register of pecuniary interests.

Stuff: Prime Minister John Key linked to company specialising in foreign trusts

Prime Minister John Key has declared a financial link to a company specialising in foreign trusts.

The latest register of MPs’ pecuniary interests, released on Tuesday, listed the Antipodes Trust Group Limited as a debtor in Key’s entry.

On its website, the Antipodes Trust calls itself a specialist provider of trustee and associated services for foreign trusts using New Zealand as their jurisdiction of choice.

It lists lawyer Ken Whitney as an executive director.

A spokeswoman for Key said Whitney had been his lawyer for a long time.

“The difference between this year’s pecuniary interests and last year’s is that he has changed firms.

“The short term deposit is used to pay for any costs incurred from the Prime Minister’s family trusts. The surplus funds are reinvested short term with New Zealand trading banks.”

So it seems to be a non-story.

One News was worse, making a big deal of the ‘perception’ of something being questionable but conceding that there was no problem revealed at all.

John Key left red-faced over trust deposit disclosure

The Prime Minister is at the centre of an embarrassing disclosure in the midst of the Panama Papers leak.

Parliament’s latest register of MPs’ financial interests show John Key has a short term deposit with a company called Antipodes Trust Group.

The company advertises on its website that it is “a specialist provider of trustee and associated services for foreign trusts using New Zealand as their jurisdiction of choice.”

Documents in the Panama leaks have made references to foreign trusts set-up here and Mr Key’s political opponents say the trusts are shrouded in too much secrecy and effectively makes New Zealand a tax haven.

Mr Key says the deposit with Antipodes Trust Group has shown up in this year’s register of his pecuniary interests because, in the past 12 months, his long-time personal lawyer went to work for the Trust Group.

Mr Key says the deposit is to cover any costs incurred by a family trust administered by his lawyer, Ken Whitney, and any surplus from the deposit is invested with New Zealand trading banks.

There is no evidence that either Mr Key, Mr Key’s lawyer, or the Antipodes Trust Group have done anything illegal or are in any way linked to issues raised in the leaks of documents from Panamanian law firm Mossat Fonseca.

They have left out the repeated suggestions of their being ‘perception’ of a problem, but have linked the Panama papers and Mossat Fonseca to the story even though they have nothing to do with it.

This is an appalling story.

It’s nearly as bad as some at The Standard trying to make something out of Key’s deposit with company specialising in foreign trusts.

Key’s statement:


Perhaps we should have an inquiry into media beat ups and perception mongering.

Leave a comment


  1. Iceberg

     /  12th April 2016

    It’s incredible that Key ever got elected in the first place, given the desire of kiwis to hate on wealthy people.

    I’ve said this before, but this has all the hallmarks of turning into an own goal for the opposition. Who in their right mind launches into attack mode so stridently and quickly with something so complicated. Little must have shit for brains, especially given Keys insight on stuff like this will be so far ahead.

  2. Kitty Catkin

     /  12th April 2016

    This sort of thing happens everywhere-look at the UK just now. I don’t know exactly what’s happening with David Cameron, I’m not that fascinated.

    It will be an own goal. Even Patrick Gower couldn’t make it sound as bad as he would have liked it to sound. It was obviously a complete non-event. There are going to be some red Red faces !

    I don’t think that one can say as a generalisation that Kiwis hate rich people; some do, some don’t as people in all countries do and don’t. Look at the spiteful tabloid stories about American celebrities, trying to bring them down. The UK gutter press is terrible and always has been. There’s a magazine there devoted solely to unflattering photos of famous people (how dare they succeed when I can’t ?) and people BUY it.

    If people here feel as you say, John Key wouldn’t be PM, everyone knows he’s a rich man.

  3. jamie

     /  12th April 2016

    I confess I’m finding this a bit hard to follow, not being well-versed in tax law and the world of complex trust arrangements, but it doesn’t seem like a good look at this time.

    There’s one thing in particular that I’m not quite getting. I thought all his assets were supposed to be in a blind trust, that he can’t access, managed by someone else, who won’t tell him what’s in it, so that he doesn’t even know what he owns or doesn’t own.

    So how does he know what to put on the pecuniary interests register?

    What am missing?

    • “The short term deposit is used to pay for any costs incurred from the prime Minister’s family costs”.

      Even Prime Ministers have to pay lawyers for the work they do, even if it’s just a bit of administration.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  12th April 2016

      If you have a family Trust before entering Parliament as many must do that is not under your control and cannot be put into a blind trust. It will continue and all you can do is withdraw from a Trustee role if you have one. At least that would be my expectation and understanding.

      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  12th April 2016

        I should have said that it is any other assets not already in the Family Trust that would be put into the blind trust.

      • jamie

         /  13th April 2016

        Ah I see, thanks Alan.

  4. Strong For Life

     /  12th April 2016–what-do-we-know-of-his-assets.html
    Today’s work of fiction by the Marxist Vernon Small is a disgrace. This Labour-leaning hack has interviewed his own keyboard and produced a slanderous item without a shred of evidence just innuendo and speculation. Little wonder newspaper sales are plummeting when this is the calibre of so-called journalism today.

    • Gezza

       /  13th April 2016

      What’s the purpose of having a trust for which you are neither a trustee nor beneficiary?

  5. Maybe some good will come out of the release if the Panama Papers as is featured in an Intel Update published today (Beware of disinformation!)

    The massive data leak of documents belonging to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has revealed the names of intelligence officials and agents from several countries, who employed front companies to conceal their financial activities. According to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which was the initial recipient of the largest data leak in history last summer, the list of names includes intelligence officials from the Middle East, Latin America and Africa, as well as “close intermediaries of the [United States] Central Intelligence Agency”.
    Referred to as ‘the Panama Papers’, the massive leak amounts to over 11.5 million internal files from Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s most prolific registrars and administrators of shell companies in offshore locations. Throughout its history, the company has created more than 300,000 shell companies, most of them in offshore tax havens like the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, or Guernsey. Its clients are offered the ability to incorporate a generic-sounding company and headquarter it in an offshore tax haven. In exchange for an annual fee, Mossack Fonseca provides the company with a sham director and shareholders, thus concealing the true owner and actual beneficiary of the business.

    The Süddeutsche Zeitung said on Monday that senior intelligence officials from Rwanda and Colombia are listed as Mossack Fonseca customers, but did not report the names of the individuals. It did, however, single out the late Sheikh Kamal Adham, who was director of Saudi Arabia’s General Intelligence Directorate in the 1960s and 1970s. During his 14-year directorship of the GID, the agency became a leading intermediary between the CIA and Arab intelligence agencies, notably those of Egypt and Iraq. Sheikh Adham was also a personal friend of CIA Director George Bush, who was later elected US president.

    According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, Sheikh Adham is one of many individuals with close CIA links whose names appear in the Panama Papers. Another is Farhad Azima, an Iranian-born American businessman, who is rumored to have leased aircraft to the CIA in the 1980s. The American intelligence agency is said to have used the aircraft, which belonged to Azima’s Kansas City, Missouri-headquartered Global International Airways, to transport weapons to Iran. The secret transfers were part of what later became known as the Iran-Contra scandal, in which US officials secretly sold weapons to Iran in return for the release of American hostages held by Iran-linked groups in the Middle East. The funds acquired from these weapons sales were then secretly funneled to the Contras, a medley of anti-communist paramilitary groups fighting the Sandinista-led government of Nicaragua.

    ► Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 13 April 2016″

  6. Lurcher1948

     /  19th April 2016

    I blame it all on Max Key, MAX it’s all your fault


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