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NZ joins global anti-corruption effort

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 12/05/2016

New Zealand has joined an international effort to combat corruption and could set up a public register of company and trust ownership.

Police Minister Judith Collins is in London at a high-level meeting and says several commitments have been made.

"New Zealand is committed to co-operating with our partners to help prevent illegal money flow across multiple countries caused by high-level corruption, and undertake effective enforcement action," she said in a statement.

Setting up the sort of register the meeting is looking at could involve foreign trusts, which are at the centre of the Panama Papers controversy.

Ms Collins says it's something that would need a lot of work but the government is going to look at it.

Labour leader Andrew Little says Ms Collins' comments contradict those of Prime Minister John Key.

"After weeks of the prime minister claiming our foreign trust industry has full disclosure of ownership, Judith Collins has told the world that National is investigating changes to stop people hiding their wealth," he said.

"This is an apparent u-turn, delivered to a foreign audience thousands of miles away presumably so the government can pretend it is doing something about our reputation as a tax haven."

British Prime Minister David Cameron is hosting the meeting and Ms Collins is representing Mr Key.

Mr Cameron told representatives including US Secretary of State John Kerry: "What we're talking about is stopping the corrupt hiding their loot from the authorities - when people steal money from your country and hide it in mine, we can expose them and return it to you."

Ms Collins says New Zealand has nominated a representative to the International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre, and the current police liaison officer in London will take up the role.

Commitments include:

* Where appropriate under New Zealand law, denying entry to specific individuals who are identified as being involved in grand scale corruption

* Exploring establishing an accessible and central database of companies with final convictions for bribery and corruption offences, and ways of sharing information on corrupt bidders across borders

* Supporting efforts to develop internationally-endorsed guidelines for the transparent and accountable management of returned stolen assets

* Working with international sports bodies to develop a partnership for combating corruption in sport

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