Bombardier Global Express

According to reports, the family trusts of Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho are the direct owners of assets including a Bombardier private jet valued at $49 million, a hotel in Beverly Hills and a $55m Los Angeles mansion. According to the US Department of Justice these assets were acquired with part of $5 billion misappropriated from the Malaysian state.

Hard evidence of corruption funded offshore trusts lands in New Zealand courtroom

The release of the Panama Papers highlighted New Zealand's attractiveness as a haven for offshore trusts, which are used to hide the ownership of assets and legitimize funds.

Current trust regulations make it challenging to gather hard evidence about the workings and magnitude of these instruments as supporters of the status quo. The initial reaction to the Panama Papers was that New Zealand’s attractive regulations had not spawned a corrupt trust environment.

There continues to be new evidence emerging of New Zealand trusts being used to protect offshore assets gained through grand corruption. Court documents and media reports about the court appearance off Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho's family offers a rare glimpse into the workings of New Zealand offshore trusts.

The family of Malaysian businessman Low Taek Jho appeared in an Auckland court on 20 February 2017 petitioning to replace the trustees of several of their trusts.

The trusts contain assets being seized by the United States’ Department of Justice as part of an investigation into the scandal-tainted 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MBD) fund. More than $US3.5 billion (NZ$4.9 billion) was allegedly misappropriated. The trusts in question contain about NZ$368 million in assets, ranging from a private jet to American mansions.

Interestingly, the trustees being replaced included the Swiss based Rothschild and Auckland's Cone Marshall, both with ties to Mossack Fonseca and the Panama Papers. They declined to fight United States authorities out of concern for their liability in the face of the tougher international money laundering regulations in that country.

TINZ avoids involvement in specific cases of corruption and our knowledge of the merits and proceedings of this case is from news articles and online publications about it. What is important is that this is a documented example of Grand Corruption landing on our shores. New Zealanders owe it to themselves and the world to prevent continued use of our system in the hidden ownership shell game.

For more details, there are a number of well researched articles including:


Recent Activity

Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 TINZ media release
Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index (TI CPI) has found that the New Zealand and Denmark public sectors are the least corrupt in the world. 25 Jan, 2017

TINZ OGP Submission
Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) submitted recommendations for New Zealand’s second Open Government Partnership (OGP) National Action Plan (NAP). Among the recommendations were a call for more ambition in creating NAPs and developing channels of communication for improving engagement with citizens. 19 Aug, 2016

Safeguarding the public interest in research
1 Aug, 2016

EU and New Zealand tax transparency
1 Aug, 2016

London Summit 2016 NZ Statement Commitments Progress
31 Jul, 2016

New Zealand Country Statement Anti Corruption Summit London 2016
29 May, 2016

Shewan Inquiry Submission Media Release
TINZ has provided its submission to the Shewan Inquiry calling on the government to widen the terms of reference to protect New Zealand's reputation and future proof our laws following the release of the "Panama papers". 21 May, 2016

CPI 2015 TINZ Media Release
Corruption Free? NZ drops again. New Zealand has fallen to fourth place in the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). 26 Jan, 2016