Category Archives: Commercial Litigator

Geoffrey Cone and Foriegn Trusts



Before we jump in to Mr. Cone’s recent in-depth response to last week’s feature on foreign trusts, let’s first talk about who he is, and how he got where he is today.


Geoffrey Cone graduated with a post graduate diploma in tax and trust law (a trust being a relationship where property is held by one party for the benefit of another, for those who are unfamiliar) from the University of Otago, New Zealand. From then, Mr. Cone began his practice Auckland, New Zealand in 1980, eventually making his way to Christchurch where he became a partner (and the Chairman) of Partners in a leading law firm. There he became involved in commercial litigation , as well as tax and trust advisory work. Cone takes a humble level of pride in his work and contributions – rightfully so – having appeared in the courts on every level as leading counsel, including the Privy Council – a body that typically advises the head of state of a nation in the context of a monarchic government.


In the year of 1997 Cone returned to Aukland from working as a litigator for the British West Indes. After merely 2 years after his return, Cone developed his very own firm; Cone Marshall Limited. Cone Marshall Limited New Zealand’s only law firm to specialize exclusively in international trust and tax planning.





In his informative and passionate in-depth response, Geoffrey Cone has tackled what he refers to as the “elephant in the room” in regards to New Zealand’s most recent foreign trust feature. Cone goes on to discuss how New Zealand is not in any way shape or form a tax haven. A “tax haven” is a country – or any independent area – where taxes are levied at a low rate. Cone states very clearly that New Zealand will not nor ever has been featured on the OECD’S list of existent tax havens residing in New Zealand.


Cone points out that a significant characteristic of tax havens is that they impose no or only nominal taxes, and that there is an evident lack of transparency. New Zealand has demonstrated strong leadership in regards to tax transparency, primarily in how it handles foreign trusts and the requirements that are placed on the trustees. “We don’t compete with tax havens, but instead with jurisdictions such as Singapore, Britain and the US, all of which have a transparent tax system and apply similar taxation principles in relation to their foreign trusts.”



Geoffrey Cone is strongly educated on this matter, and through his response posted in the form of an article on “nzherald” he clearly attempted to educate his audience as well on the truth and the realness behind New Zealand’s tax system and foreign trusts.