Media Releases

NZ newsrooms work together on Panama Papers investigation

Released at 9:08 am on 9 May 2016

Joint media release with ONE News
This morning, a major investigative collaboration between ONE News, RNZ News and journalist and author Nicky Hager exposes more New Zealand links to secret offshore trusts that are operating in this country to avoid paying tax.

It’s the biggest new development in the Panama Papers scandal since the tax haven records of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca were first leaked in April.

RNZ News, ONE News and Nicky Hager were brought together by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists as part of a global network of media partners. For the past week and a half, journalists have been trawling through the local aspects of the data cache, that includes information about companies, trusts, foundations and funds incorporated in 21 tax havens.

Today’s news first broke at 6am and coverage will continue to roll out throughout the day on air and online via ONE News and RNZ News.

Says Nicky Hager: “The thing that has been special and powerful about the Panama Papers around the world has been the scale of journalistic cooperation. It's very pleasing to see that happen in New Zealand as well.”

There’s significant public interest in the information, says Phil O’Sullivan, TVNZ’s Editor of Newsgathering.

“Our joint investigation raises serious questions about New Zealand’s trust laws, and the ease with which they are manipulated. It’s vitally important the public gets access to leaks like the Panama Papers so we’re very gratified the ICIJ has selected ONE News, RNZ News and Nicky Hager to be their New Zealand partners for this story and likely many more to come.”

Alex van Wel, RNZ’s Digital News Editor, says “Collaboration is a great word, sometimes easier to say than to do, but this process has been extraordinary. Seven of New Zealand’s top journalists, day by day, in the same room, sharing ideas, brainstorming, and digging deeper as names and leads emerged. It’s the way of the future, to tackle big data you need lots of minds working together. It’s also a story about power, and money of course – the utterly bewildering mass of trusts and companies in which it flows.

“Exposing this story has only been possible because of the new digital world in which we live. First
the leak from Mossack Fonseca itself, and then the collaboration and coordination by reporters
across the world - all in relative secrecy. Great that we’ve been able to uncover New Zealand’s part
in it all.”

Tomorrow, the ICIJ will release a searchable database with information on more than 200,000
offshore entities that are part of the Panama Papers investigation.