Transparency Times November 2017

From the Chair

Jacinda Ardern New Zealand Prime Minister

16 November 2017

Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern

Prime Minister

Executive Wing, Parliament Buildings

Molesworth St

Thorndon

Wellington 6011

Dear Prime Minister,

Congratulations on becoming Prime Minister! Your commitment to making our country a better place to live with a brighter future for New Zealand and New Zealanders is demonstrated through your 100-days plan. 

Hearing you repeatedly emphasize in the Speech from the Throne, that transparency is essential to successfully achieving your outcomes was music to our ears.

Transparency International New Zealand has been actively engaged in New Zealand for over 20 years with an ongoing focus on New Zealand corruption prevention. We are a national chapter of Transparency International who’s annual Corruption Perceptions Index consistently finds New Zealand’s public service as the, or one of the, least corrupt in the world.

In 2013 we published the Integrity Plus 2013 New Zealand National Integrity System Assessment, the recommendations from which are recognised by organizations such as The State Services Commission, to provide the definitive roadmap for improving New Zealand’s public sector transparency and integrity.

Suzanne Snively Chair Transparency International New Zealand
Suzanne Snively Chair Transparency International New Zealand

Integrity is our country’s most important asset, and it is currently under-utilised. Strong integrity systems further empower the groups you intend to enable through enhanced social investment, investment in new quality jobs  and individual’s own investment in their futures. The resultant innovation and growth will advance your agenda for prosperity.

We can work with you to build a better society and support the business and economic outcomes that contribute to the well-being of all our nation’s people.

I look forward to meeting with you to discuss our mutual interests.

Warm regards,

Suzanne Snively, OZCM

Chair

Transparency International New Zealand Inc.

Paradise Papers

Steve Snively Newsletter Editor and Webmaster

Steve Snively

TINZ Newsletter Editor

Webmaster

On 5 November 2017 The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released the Paradise Papers.  This is the same investigative organization that combed through the Panama Papers and released the results to the world.

According to the ICIJ:

“A trove of 13.4 million records exposes ties between Russia and U.S. President Donald Trump’s billionaire commerce secretary, the secret dealings of the chief fundraiser for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the offshore interests of the Queen of England and more than 120 politicians around the world.

The leaked documents, dubbed the Paradise Papers, show how deeply the offshore financial system is entangled with the overlapping worlds of political players, private wealth and corporate giants, including Apple, Nike, Uber and other global companies that avoid taxes through increasingly imaginative bookkeeping manoeuvres.”

While no prominent New Zealand citizens or organizations have been included in the initial reports, the latter highlight the importance of strong anti-money laundering laws and beneficial ownership registers. They show the extreme gyrations that people of great wealth and corporate giants will go through to avoid taxes and camouflage assets.

The bulk of the documents have originated from Appleby, a Bermuda based company offering offshore legal services. The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung obtained the leaked documents from an unnamed source, and then shared them with the ICIJ due to their experience with sifting through large document troves.

To date, little is known about how these documents were initially obtained. This process itself highlights issues of legality and morality faced in whistleblowing as well as professional risks and even the personal safety of individuals involved.

TINZ Affiliate Oxfam New Zealand notes in an email to their constituients:

“This morning’s leak of millions of documents in the Paradise Papers has once again revealed the dark and murky world of tax avoidance. From prominent politicians and celebrities to global corporate giants, tax avoiders have once again been exposed for stashing away their low tax/untaxed wealth in paradise instead of a fair share being invested in roads, schools, and hospitals in the countries where they earned that income.”

For more information:

The Paradise Papers further exposes the convoluted steps that large corporations and the extremely wealthy will go to avoid taxes and hide assets. It is clear that legal entities in “paradise countries” are popular mechanisms to operate secretly. The disease of Grand Corruption thrives in these opaque environments.

While no direct New Zealand reference has been discovered in the Paradise Papers, other sources including The Panama Papers, 1MDB trustee case and the Unaoil bribery scandal provide clear evidence that New Zealand is not immune.

It is critical to inoculate New Zealand through a steadfast push toward transparency including a public register of beneficial ownership of trusts and companies.

Remember the Panama Papers – What happened?

Brendon Wilson TINZ Director

by Brendon Wilson

TINZ Director

Writing for Employers and Manufacturers Association

BusinessPlus Magazine – August 2017

Editor’s Note This article is particularly timely in light of the recent murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in Malta and the release of the Paradise Papers

Following the Panama Papers leak -a whistleblowing event of heroic proportions- to a world audience in 2016, New Zealand was named as a desired destination for foreign trusts, suspected of potentially hiding funds from tax and other agencies. In these trusts the true owner of the assets was not identified and could not be discovered, so New Zealand was rightly or wrongly seen by many as complicit in helping to protect money launderers and tax evaders.

Following widespread concern which gathered business and public support, including strong advocacy from Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ), a previously uninterested NZ government appointed world-recognised tax figure John Shewan to conduct an inquiry. The resulting Shewan Report found that ‘there is a reasonable likelihood that the regime is facilitating the hiding of funds or evasion of tax’. To its credit, the Government codified many of his recommendations, into law which became effective in February, with a compliance deadline of 1 July 2017.

The resulting more rigorous requirements for foreign trusts has produced a significant drop in registrations. Where there were 11,675 registered foreign trusts in April last year, at the 1 July deadline only 3,000 have registered under the new disclosure laws.

Of the trusts who have not re-registered – and so are now unable to operate legally in New Zealand – some 3,000 have indicated to Inland Revenue Department that they will no longer be registering. The IRD has yet to hear from the remaining 5,000.

“By adding tougher disclosure requirements, New Zealand sent a strong signal that we will no longer tolerate being a conduit for corrupt money and property purchases,” says Suzanne Snively, Chair of Transparency International New Zealand. “The sharp decline in registrations strongly suggests that there are a number of foreign trusts involved in activities that couldn’t stand scrutiny.”

By any measure, the sheer logic of these new registration numbers indicates a large number moving away to avoid the disclosure the new law requires. There is no need – or way – to enquire further into the background of these departed trusts, except to commiserate that many will probably find another anonymous home – but not in New Zealand.

The new law did not establish a centralised register of beneficial ownership of companies and trusts, open and available to all reporting entities. This would promote greater transparency and public confidence, and would be consistent with the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Act. It is still a worthy objective.

Preventing the use of New Zealand’s reputation to legitimise ill-gotten funds is a vital part of the effort to achieve a transparent and corruption-free New Zealand – a major TINZ goal.

Has the new law improved the New Zealand financial landscape and international reputation? We think so.

TINZ 2017 Annual General Meeting

Transparency International New Zealand’s 2017 Annual General Meeting held on 30, October 2017, was well attended by individual members, representatives from member organisations, and invited donors, affiliates and guests.

5 Directors were re-elected, namely Suzanne Snively, Christine Stevenson, Brendon Wilson, Conway Powell and Josephine Serrallach. In addition, two members, Karen Webster and Lisa Traill were elected to be Directors of Transparency International New Zealand.

James Brown and Bryce Edwards choose to not run for re-election for futher term as Board of Directors. However, both indicate a willingness to remain involved with delegated authority and we thank them for their continued service.

Sir Anand Satyanand introduced guest speaker, Rebecca Kitteridge, Director General of the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service, following the AGM who spoke onLetting in the Light – Increasing Transparency in the New Zealand Intelligence Community.

TINZ AGM Presentations

TINZ Patron Sir Don McKinnon chairing the 2017 AGM
TINZ Patron Sir Don McKinnon chairing the 2017 AGM
TINZ Manager Operations Stepanie Hopkins and and Sir Anand Satyanand at 2017 AGM
TINZ Manager Operations Stephanie Hopkins and and Sir Anand Satyanand
TINZ Director Mark Sainsbury and DG NZSIS Rebecca Kitteridge at 2017 AGM
TINZ Director Mark Sainsbury and DG NZSIS Rebecca Kitteridge
TINZ Director elect Josephine Serrallach at 2017 AGM
TINZ Director elect Josephine Serrallach
TINZ Director elect Christine Stevenson at 2017 AGM
TINZ Director elect Christine Stevenson
TINZ Director elect Brendon Wilson at 2017 AGM
TINZ Director elect Brendon Wilson
TINZ Director David McNeill giving vote of thanks to Chair Suzanne Snively at 2017 AGM
TINZ Director David McNeill giving vote of thanks to Chair Suzanne Snively
TINZ Chair Suzanne Snively thanking DG NZSIS Rebecca Kitteridge at 2017 AGM
TINZ Chair Suzanne Snively thanking DG NZSIS Rebecca Kitteridge
TINZ Chair Suzanne Snively at 2017 AGM
TINZ Chair Suzanne Snively
TINZ Chair Suzanne Snively and TINZ Director Mark Sainsbury at 2017 AGM
TINZ Chair Suzanne Snively and TINZ Director Mark Sainsbury
TINZ Chair Suzanne Sniveley and TINZ Administror Eva Lu at 2017 AGM
TINZ Chair Suzanne Snively and TINZ Administrator Eva Lu at 2017 AGM
TINZ Board Member elect Lisa Traill at 2017 AGM
TINZ Board Member elect Lisa Traill
TINZ Board Member elect Karen Webster at 2017 AGM
TINZ Board Member elect Karen Webster
TINZ Board member David Dunsheath and Sir Anand Satyanand at 2017 AGM
TINZ Board member David Dunsheath and Sir Anand Satyanand
Sir Anand Satyanand and Liz Brown at 2017 AGM
Sir Anand Satyanand and Liz Brown
DG NZSIS Rebecca Kitteridge guest speaker introduced by Sir Anand Satyanand at 2017 AGM
DG NZSIS Rebecca Kitteridge guest speaker introduced by Sir Anand Satyanand

Letting in the Light – Increasing Transparency in the New Zealand Intelligence Community

DG NZSIS Rebecca Kitteridge guest speaker

DG NZSIS Rebecca Kitteridge guest speaker at 2017 AGM

Rebecca Kitteridge

Director-General of Security

New Zealand Security Intelligence Service

Rebecca Kitteridge’s presentation focused on the increased openness and transparency of the New Zealand Intelligence Community (NZIC) – in the work that they do and how they do it.

Rebecca spoke about the values of open government, democracy and integrity in decision making, which she has strongly believed in throughout her life and career, and which she has very much championed in her current role as Director-General of Security at the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service (NZSIS).

Her speech outlined the Intelligence and Security Act (ISA) 2017, which came into effect this year. The new legislation, and the independent review that preceded and informed it, intentionally created a greater level of transparency and openness about the work of NZSIS and the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB). The legislation and the independent review give people access to information about what the intelligence and security agencies do, why they do it and how they do it. In many cases this information had not been disclosed publicly before.

Rebecca talked about the public’s increased desire for openness about the work delivered by the intelligence agencies – and the agencies’ work to meet this demand while balancing the need to keep some aspects of their work secret in order to be able to do their job safely and successfully.

In her closing comments Rebecca stated that: “Having more accurate information in the public domain will help the people of New Zealand to have an informed voice in the ongoing discourse about the place and work of intelligence and security agencies. I truly believe that that can only be positive for the intelligence community and the public.”

Delia Matilde Ferreira Rubio Chair Transparency Internetional

Delia Matilde Ferreira Rubio Chair Transparency Internetional

Transparency International Elects New Global Leader

Delia Matilde and Ruben Lifuka

7 November 2017

Argentinean Lawyer Delia Matilde Ferreira Rubio was elected chair of Transparency International, the global anti-corruption movement, at its Annual Membership Meeting in Berlin on 15 October 2017. Reuben Lifuka of Zambia was elected as Vice-Chair.

Transparency International (TI) is a global movement to stop corruption and promote transparency, accountability and integrity at all levels and across all sectors of society.

The global movement is represented by an international secretariat in Berlin. The TI Movement has a worldwide presence consisting of more than 100 National Chapters, Chapters in Formation and National Contacts.

The members of the movement comprise individuals and independent entities.  They receive formal accreditation as “Individual Members” (IM’s who are actual persons) or “National Chapters” (entities). Accredited IMs and National Chapters have equal voting rights at TI’s Annual Membership Meetings (AMMs), which are equivalent to AGMs.

Official Chapter Representatives (OCRs) and a majority of formally accredited IMs met in October to learn from each other, collaborate and to carry out the business of an AGM, holding the Board of Directors to Account and electing new Board members.

This year’s meeting addressed major restructuring of the Secretariat led by the Chair, Jose Ugaz and his Board and then the election of nine new members to the Board, including the Chair and Deputy Chair.

Major restructuring was required to remain financially sustainable in a shifting revenue landscape where overall funding levels are lower with a focus on funding projects instead of capacity.

Changes at the Secretariat had an impact on the way that Chapters and IMs responded to the election of the Board. Different approaches to Governance distinguished the two teams of Chair and Vice-Chair.

Incumbent Chair, Peruvian Jose Ugaz and his vice-chair preference, Boris Divjak from Bosnia Herzegovia (an incumbent TI Board member) unsuccessfully  exhorted OCRs and members to re-elect him so he could continue his leadership of the restructuring process.

On the other hand, Delia Rubio from Argentina and her preferred vice-chair Rueben Lifuka from Zambia ran on a successful platform focused on the need to review the role of governance in shaping the future of the secretariat.

A review of the restructure to date at the AMM highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of the restructure, always a challenging process under German employment law. Watch this space to see how the new TI Board leads the organisation from a perspective of values, principles and rules to build a vibrant future.

TINZ launches a new website

https://www.transparency.org.nz

On 30 October Transparency International New Zealand launched a new version of this website.

Key design considerations include

This is very much a work in progress; your feedback is welcome. 

Corruption in PNG and the Pacific

TI-PNG briefs Asia Pacific Region Meeting 29 July 2017

Lawrence Stephens Chair TI-PNG briefs Asia Pacific Region Meeting 29 July 2017

At the end of July 2017, TINZ held a three-day meeting of Transparency International’s Asia Pacific chapters. TI’s Global Chair, José Ugaz was in attendance. He saw first-hand that corruption remains entrenched throughout many places in the Pacific. The following letter was sent to him by TI-PNG’s Chair, Lawrence Stephens.

Letter from Lawrence Stephens, Chair TI-PNG

Dear José,

I have been attempting to send you copies of coverage of your visit from our Tok Pisin national weekly newspaper. It was given page 1 status with follow up on pages 2 and 3. I will try again tomorrow.

I should point out that I am a member of the board of that publication but had nothing to do with the editorial decision which gave your visit such prominence. In fact, I have had no contact with the staff for some weeks now.

Tok Pisin is the language I used to thank the Bougainville “bamboo” band during the farewell kaikai (meal) we had on Tuesday night. It is one of our three official languages.

It may be of interest to you to know that we launched a list of outstanding corruption issues yesterday. We wanted to have you with us for that but your flights did not permit it.

It was a great occasion thanks to Arianne and Yua. I will send you a copy of the report shortly.

Also, tonight Transparency International Papua New Guinea (TI-PNG) directors Peter Aitsi, Valentina Kaman, Richard Kassman and I met, at his request, the newly appointed Attorney General, Davis Steven. He was re-elected as a member of Parliament for Esa’ala in one of our maritime electorates off the Eastern coast of New Guinea, a lawyer. It came at an interesting time here with our PM once again securing a legal decision to avoid arrest for his role in the “Paraka gate” matter to which you referred several times.

The Attorney General indicated interest in working with us to improve the CPI rating of PNG. We will see how this develops but in the meantime, I am very grateful for the strong but polite positions presented to him by my fellow directors. Attorney General Davis Steven has already followed up with a text message to me indicating willingness to engage with us.

As I tap out this message I am listening to some very strong messages from my friends, who travel with me each day to and from the city, warning each other on the need to watch out for people who might be upset by the flood of comments, reported in the media today, by me as chair of TI PNG, on the issues we face. They are more concerned than I.

We have encouraged the PM to honour his anti-corruption promises, present himself for examination by the fraud squad and drawn attention to a litany of outstanding issues not addressed by us all including the apparently inexplicable and uninvestigated loss of K8 billion (US $ 3 billion) from our public trust accounts. Our report is titled “Less We Forget”, words which are normally associated with recalling lives lost by us in war. One of our members, the Catholic Archbishop of Mount Hagen, responded by saying he was initially not impressed by the choice of title but, on reflection, decided that it was an appropriate way of drawing attention to the deaths caused by enemies of the people through corruption.

It is a time of tension because many are concerned that their actions are likely to be examined. There are many who are concerned

I was proud to be part of the delegation of TI PNG directors who explained to the AG our commitment to better governance, expressed gratitude for his willingness to explore with us practical measures to make a difference but insisted on our honouring the obligation we believe we have to say what we think and criticise where we feel criticism is needed and can, we hope, be helpful.

Thanks again for your visit.

Lawrence Stephens

 

Short takes

Sir Anand Satyanand addresses the World Psychiatry Association

On 11 October 2017 The Right Honourable Sir Anand Satyanand delivered the keynote address to the World Psychiatry Association entitled Human Rights for Those with Mental Illness

Former Governol General Sir Anand presented on behalf of international charity The Centre for Applied Research and Evaluation International Foundation. Sir Anand has been TINZ’s patron and is a current member of global the Transparency International’s Independent Advisory Council.

In summation he states: “I envision the building of a hypothetical structure which has, as its foundation, the international instruments regarding human rights protection, which laid end on end, call for the construction of a cohesive approach towards preservation of the human rights of those with mental illness.”

Sir Anand Satyanand (center) and the Careif team at the World Psychiatric Association Congress Berlin 2017-min

The New Zealand Financial Innovation & Technology Association

The New Zealand Financial Innovation & Technology Association Logo

Outgoing TINZ Director James Brown is General Manager of Financial Innovation & Technology (FinTech) a TINZ affiliate and partner in our Financial System Integrity Assessment.

FinTech is redefining the way we borrow, lend, save, spend, store and transfer money. Disruptive technologies are revolutionising traditional financial services, creating opportunities for start up entrepreneurs and corporate innovators.

FinTechNZ is an industry working group whose key purpose is to actively contribute to the prosperity of New Zealand through financial innovation.

We aim to helping New Zealand FinTech businesses succeed by providing a collaborative voice, creating connections, promoting FinTech to sector members, government, public and international community. 

FinTech hosted three TINZ presentations in September and October focused on TINZ’s Financial Integrity System Assessment.

In case you missed it

International

Rational Kleptocracy reducing or eradicating corruption depends on collective, not individual, change.

How to regulate Facebook and the online giants in one word: Transparency Digital technologies rewrite the relationships between society’s element

We condemn the barbaric murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia who fearlessly exposed corruption Anti-corruption activists, press freedom advocates and investigative journalists from around the world condemn the barbaric murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, an investigative journalist from Malta who courageously exposed organised crime and corruption in politics.

ParadisePapers: time to clean up the offshore financial havens Transparency International

New Zealand transparency, integrity and accountability

Doing Business Measuring Business Regulations The World Bank The Doing Business project provides objective measures of business regulations for local firms in 190 economies and selected cities at the subnational level. New Zealand is ranked number one for 2018. New Zealand is first on ease of doing business for the second consecutive year

Farmers should benefit from calls for greater transparency around food production Consumer demands for more transparency in food production are expected to bring greater rewards for New Zealand farmers demonstrating good environmental stewardship.

Pair convicted of corruption launch appeal A roading contractor and senior Auckland council manager found guilty of corruption in the country’s largest bribery prosecution will next week challenge their convictions and sentences in the Court of Appeal.

Revealed: Police haul of assets from corrupt contractor The haul relates to police efforts to seize the proceeds of crime following the country’s largest-ever bribery prosecution where Stephen Borlase – the former head of roading contractor Projenz – and Murray Noone – a former senior manager at Auckland Transport – were last year convicted in the High Court of bribery and corruption.

You’d best be prepared if trusts bill becomes law Specifically, I want to address the ramifications for trustees, the key one being disclosure of trust information to beneficiaries. A trustee’s duty to inform beneficiaries is a fundamental responsibility.

Lobby groups have power but not on the same scale as US New Zealand is often named by one of the least corrupt countries by international surveys, but that doesn’t mean those who make the country’s laws are immune to the influence of special interest groups, unions and big business.

Auckland roading corruption conviction upheld by Court of Appeal The Court of Appeal on Tuesday confirmed both the conviction and sentences in the Auckland roading contractors’ bribery and corruption case in a decision which underlines the firm line that both the courts – and prosecutors – are taking in recent years on bribery and corruption issues.

Paradise Papers

What are the Paradise Papers and what do they tell us? The Guardian

Paradise Papers: NZ Govt urged to demonstrate leadership on global tax avoidance – Oxfam

Paradise Papers International Consortium of Investigative Journalists – A new leak of confidential records reveals the financial hideaways of iconic brands and power brokers across the political spectrum

End the era of tax havens Oxfam – The Paradise Papers is the latest tax scandal to hit the headlines. From prominent politicians and celebrities to global corporate giants, tax dodgers have once again been exposed for not paying their fair share