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Key stands firm on database claim

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/05/2016 Peter Wilson, Political Writer

The Greens want John Key to apologise for saying Greenpeace International is in the Panama Papers database, but he isn't going to.

The prime minister was under fire in parliament on Tuesday over revelations in the Panama Papers and tax laws that allow foreign trusts to be set up in New Zealand.

A Panama Papers database had just gone live and Mr Key said he had taken a look at it.

"Guess who is a beneficiary of one of the trusts - Greenpeace International," he said.

Mr Key also said Amnesty International and the Red Cross were in the database.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says the charities named in the papers were the victims of scams and were used as a front to hide the money of others.

In parliament on Wednesday Mr Shaw and Labour leader Andrew Little called on Mr Key to apologise.

"What I said yesterday was factually correct," Mr Key told them.

"Go into the database, a very quick search for Greenpeace International shows you that it's a beneficiary of the Exodus Trust."

Mr Key said the point he had been making was that numerous people could have been unwittingly named in the papers, leaked from Panamanian-based law firm Mossack Fonseca which sets up trusts.

"What this goes to prove is that all of the names of innocent New Zealanders who have been dragged across the TV screens and sullied by members of this House - all because they unwittingly end up on this database - should be taken with a grain of salt by other New Zealanders," he said.

"For the last couple of nights, New Zealanders have been on TV and their names have been there because they happened to be in the database - along with a great many organisations like Greenpeace International."

Mr Key said people should know that if they went into the database and saw a name, they should treat that information with a high degree of scepticism.

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