Panama Papers: More New Zealand links to come video

Former New Zealand journalist Peter Bale heads an organisation responsible for picking apart the Panama Papers.
MARION VAN DIJK/FAIRFAX NZ

Former New Zealand journalist Peter Bale heads an organisation responsible for picking apart the Panama Papers.

There are more New Zealand connections to be revealed in the Panama Papers, says the Kiwi who has overseen the biggest document leak in history.

The treasure chest of 11 million documents was leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Journalists around the world are now raking over the elaborate structures masterminded by lawyers in the loosely-regulated Central American state for 40 years.

Associates of Russian president Vladimir Putin, Argentine president Mauricio Macri, a daughter of former Chinese premier Li Peng and Icelandic prime minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson have all been identified by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) as "power players" in the leaked documents.

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There have been no admissions of wrongdoing, but Gunnlaugsson resigned. There were massive public protests after it was revealed his wife owned an offshore company with big claims against Icelandic banks, which represented an undeclared conflict of interest.

The papers revealed key players in Malta's political scene had trusts in this country.

Former journalist Peter Bale is now chief executive of the United States-based Center for Public Integrity.

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It was to CPI's ICIJ that the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung turned when it was first offered the leaked papers.

Bale told TV3's The Nation his organisation was approached because it had worked with the newspaper before, and its management were confident the ICIJ team could keep the secret as long as necessary and work on the scale required.

He said the full data should be made available to the public within the next couple of months.

But he said New Zealand could assume there would be more connections with this country revealed.

"You can be absolutely certain, I think. or as near to certain, that there will be significant numbers of New Zealand entities within this data set. Given the history of New Zealand's position on offshore companies registering trusts there from offshore and New Zealand's history with Niue and other places we know Mossack Fonseca as used, means you should assume there is a very strong New Zealand connection.

"Based on the discussion I had with my team today, and going back to some of the history there has been with New Zealand companies and individuals who have been active in this area of offshore companies... we can be pretty certain there are New Zealand names in there. I just can't go into more detail at the moment."

He said ICIJ director Gerard Ryle considered New Zealand's conditions favourable for tax-dodging activities. "New Zealand knows it has issues with the ease of setting up trusts and the way trusts are identified. New Zealand recognises there are issues there."

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