Bid to clean up NZ’s business reputation divides submitters

Wealthy investors could shun New Zealand or risk being kidnapped if they had to open up about their business interests here, critics of a Government proposal to show who really owns and controls Kiwi companies are warning.

Commerce Minister Kris Faafoi is consulting on creating a publicly-searchable register of the “beneficial” or true owners of Kiwi businesses after warning in June that New Zealand needed to strengthen its reputation as a place for honest business.

Police estimate $1.35 billion in proceeds from fraud and illegal drugs is laundered through corporate entities in New Zealand, while the “Panama Papers” showed how shell companies and trusts could be used to hide money trails from corruption and tax evasion.

The existing Companies Office register lists the directors and some information on the shareholders of private firms, but owners can hide behind some structures such as

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