EXCLUSIVE - Panama Papers NZ - The head of one of Auckland's most prominent public relations companies has been dragged unknowingly into the Panama Papers' controversy.
The Panama Papers name Deborah Pead, managing director of Pead PR in Mount Eden, as the beneficial owner of three trusts in a well known tax haven.
But Ms Pead, who has a host of well known corporate clients and has been described as one of the most influential people in Auckland, said she was only a trustee and a protector of assets of a friend in trouble.
The papers reveal that Ms Pead was involved with a financial management company called Chesterfield Group, a British group with branches in well known offshore financial centres - including the Channel Islands and Cyprus.
Chesterfields then engaged the Panamanian based law firm Mossack Fonseca, which set up three trusts in the British Virgin Islands in 2014.
So I'm in the Panama Papers. But sadly no tax haven here. pic.twitter.com/H33UcwHuk0— Deborah Pead (@DeborahPead) May 10, 2016
The private trust companies are called DAC Company Services (PTC) Limited, DAC Company Group (PTC) Limited and DAC Company Management (PTC) Limited, and were incorporated in late September 2014.
Each company had a nominal capital of US$50,000 (around NZ$73,500) which was said to be from business profits. Each company was said to be carrying out its business in the Mediterranean island of Cyprus.
Panama Papers NZ - Click here for full coverage
Ms Pead, who moved to New Zealand from South Africa in 1996, has confirmed she was involved in the three DAC companies and said it was because she had agreed to help a friend in trouble.
"This is a private arrangement where I agreed to be the protector of a friends' assets while she was dealing with a challenging time in her life," she said in reply to written questions.
She said her dealings had all been with the Chesterfield Management services based in BVI and Cyprus, and she did not know of any links to Mossack Fonseca or the investment of the funds.
"I have no knowledge of where Chesterfield invest the assets they manage."
There's been a few laughs in the office today but many people set up trusts for genuine reasons. My role was in protecting a friend in need— Deborah Pead (@DeborahPead) May 10, 2016
Ms Pead said the DAC entities were now defunct because her friend needed the assets to meet obligations in South Africa.
The Panama Papers have also thrown up Singapore-based New Zealand billionaire Richard Chandler.
Through Mossack Fonseca, his Richard Chandler Corporation set up two companies in the Bahamas - Milbourne Investments Holdings Limited and Genesis Management Limited.
The directors were Richard Chandler Corporation employees at the time and the address for the directors was listed as a high rise in Raffles Place in Singapore, the same address as Richard Chandler's organisation.
And the late Allan Hubbard, who founded and managed the failed South Canterbury Finance empire, is shown, along with his wife Margaret, among 80 shareholders of South American Ferro Metals, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands and which listed Mossack Fonseca as its agent.
*The investigation into New Zealand links in the Panama Papers is a journalistic collaboration by reporters from RNZ News, One News and investigative journalist Nicky Hager, and with the assistance of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.