12 Apr 2016

Samoa govt defends oversight of offshore trusts

4:41 am on 12 April 2016

The Samoa government is addressing reports of its involvement with the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, recently highlighted in the Panama Papers.

Leaked documents show the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca had been involved in administering offshore trusts in a number of countries, including New Zealand, Samoa and Niue.

The Samoa government issued a statement on Monday night saying ten licensed trustee companies, including Mossack Fonseca, currently operate under its international financial centre.

It said this practice was legal, and common, and Samoa prides itself on leading efforts to ensure the conduct of these businesses is regulated and supervised in compliance with international standards.

The government said reference to the activities of a senior diplomat at Samoa's High Commission in Australia were in no way improper, but rather part of a typical administrative function.

It said the country had strong legal frameworks to address money laundering and counter terrorism activities.

The Central Bank of Samoa and the Financial Intelligence Unit had made assurances that Samoa would redouble its efforts to ensure it cannot and will not be used by money launderers and tax evaders, it said.