Auckland Airport: Is Foreign-Owned First Gas The Issue?

New Zealand First is asking if the debacle affecting Auckland Airport is a product of underinvestment by the pipelines’ overseas owned maintainer, First Gas Limited.

“Aside from a solitary digger exposing the frailties of basic infrastructure, does First Gas expose frailties in overseas investment and tax rules?” asked the Rt Hon Winston Peters, New Zealand First Leader and Member of Parliament for Northland.

“First Gas has the contract to maintain Marsden Point’s gas pipeline and came on the scene last April.  That’s when the Overseas Investment Office cleared the $952m sale of Vector Gas to majority Australian-owned First Gas Holdings.

“It turns out that most of this supposedly Australian-owned company’s shares, 59.56% worth, are registered to the Butterfield Trust (Cayman) Limited.  As the Cayman’s are a well-known tax haven, does First Gas pay any tax in New Zealand?

“We also need to know if maintenance spending has been wound back to pay its overseas owners a bigger dividend. 

“And when it went through the Overseas Investment Office last year, there was no mention of the Cayman Islands. Was the OIO misled given the Butterfield Trust has related entities that appear in the Panama Papers and related leak databases?

“That’s ironic given a big leak has struck the pipeline from Marsden Point,” says Mr Peters.