Greenpeace slams Anadarko tax haven

Last updated 15:35 12/06/2014

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Environmental lobby group Greenpeace has taken aim at an oil company for registering in an offshore tax haven.

Anadarko NZ Taranaki Company is registered in the Cayman islands and Greenpeace have questioned if this is to avoid paying tax in New Zealand, and liabilities in the event of an oil spill.

But the company's New Zealand manager Alan Seay says it is entitled to register offshore.

"We pay the tax we are legally required to pay," he said.

"Lots of companies do that. It's not unusual for companies to register in places where there may be advantages to doing so in that regard.

"Yes there are [advantages]."

Seay said that in the event of an accident, Anadarko would "meet all of our responsibilities in any event like that".

Greenpeace and Anadarko locked horns in court last year.

The conservation group asked for a judicial review of the Environmental Protection Authority's decision to allow Anadarko to drill off the coast of Raglan.

The High Court dismissed the application and ordered Greenpeace to pay costs - $21,000 to the EPA and $25,000 to Anadarko.

After fundraising the cash, Greenpeace discovered the Cayman Islands link.

In a letter to Seay this week, they asked if the costs should be paid directly to the entity in the Cayman Islands to "cut out the middle man in New Zealand".

"We assume that Anadarko New Zealand will transfer all monies acquired from Greenpeace New Zealand and our individual supporters offshore to Anadarko's entity in the Cayman Islands," they wrote.

Greenpeace said the firm was registered at Ugland House in the Cayman capital of George Town. The office building is "home" to almost 20,000 companies and is linked to tax avoidance strategies. In 2009, US President Barack Obama called it "either the biggest building in the world or the biggest tax scam in the world".

Anadarko recently searched unsuccessfully for oil and gas in the Taranaki and Canterbury Basins.

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