The appointment of John Shewan to investigate foreign trusts in New Zealand was always going to be controversial. Mr Shewan has a well deserved reputation as an establishment figure in Wellington. So it wasn’t surprising that Labour Leader Andrew Little alleged in Palriament yesterday that the Prime Minister had appointed John Shewan and Don Brash as advisors to the Bahamas Government when it introduced GST and “advised that its financial services be zero-rated for value-added tax in order to protect the offshore services industry of that country”.
Mr Shewan vigroously denied this to Checkpoint He said the trip to the Bahamas had absolutely nothing to do with its status as a tax haven, and any suggestion of that was complete nonsense. We recommended that they modify their proposed regime significantly and simply follow New Zealand’s rules across the board.” Mr Shewan said they did recommend backing an existing exemption, as per international practice, that financial services be exempt from GST.
Dirty and nasty politics from Labour. John Shewan has advised both National and Labour Governments over the years. But now as they are desperate to try and make NZ look like Panama, Little defames Shewan under parliamentary privilege.
As Shewan said on Checkpoint (you can listen here) his work for the Bahamas had nothing to do with income tax or trusts. It was how to have a best practice GST, and the advice was basically to follow the NZ GST model (which is seen as one of the best in the world).