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Cullen Group Ltd v Commissioner of Inland Revenue [2019] NZHC 404

12 March 2019

Decision

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Summary

In moving to the United Kingdom, Mr Eric Watson restructured a significant shareholding into debt owed by a New Zealand company, Cullen Group Ltd, to two Cayman Island conduit companies, all of which he still controlled to a high degree. This allowed Cullen Group Ltd to pay an Approved Issuer Levy totalling $8 million, rather than Non-Resident Withholding Tax of $59.5 million. The High Court has found this was a tax avoidance arrangement because it was not within Parliament's contemplation and purpose in enacting the AIL regime. Cullen Group Ltd is liable for the $51.5 million difference plus interest and penalties.


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