11 May 2016

Former Cooks minister says Panama Papers not a big issue

11:15 am on 11 May 2016

A former Government minister and opposition leader in the Cook Islands says the Panama Papers leaks don't damage his country's reputation.

Wilkie Rasmussen, a lawyer, said the Cook Islands is in full compliance with international law regarding the establishment of overseas trusts.

He said New Zealand is more implicated regarding foreign trusts used for hiding away wealth while the Cook Islands is used more for asset protection.

Mr Rasmussen said the foreign trusts industry is a tiny industry in the Cook Islands compared to others.

"I would say that maybe about ten years ago the Cook Islands complied to all the restrictions that were placed upon countries like the Cook Islands that were delving into that sort of industry."

Mr Rasmussen said there are other 'trickle-down' benefits of offshore trusts such as employment and a heightened awareness of the Cook Islands for prospective investors.

The person who leaked the Panama Papers described the Cook Islands as a financial fraud Mecca.

Former Cook Islands Foreign Minister , Wilkie Rasmussen

Former Cook Islands Foreign Minister , Wilkie Rasmussen Photo: RNZI/Cook Islands News

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