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New Zealand PM thrown out of parliament over Panama Papers

New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key speaks to media at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices during a joint press conference in Sydney, Australia.
Brendon Thorne | Getty Images
New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key speaks to media at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices during a joint press conference in Sydney, Australia.

The Prime Minister of New Zealand has been ejected from parliament after a tirade over the country's role in the Panama Papers.

John Key, who has led the South Pacific country since 2008, was answering a question from a Green Party politician on why he had not apologized to charities Greenpeace, the Red Cross, and Amnesty.

On Tuesday, Key surprised media and politicians by naming those organizations in connection with the papers.

It was subsequently confirmed none of the three was found to have any direct link to foreign asset trusts currently under scrutiny by journalists.

After a long rant defending why he named the charities, Key was told to sit down by the speaker of the house.

When he then didn't, the New Zealand Prime Minister was ordered to leave the chamber.

New Zealand has been mentioned in the Panama Papers more than 60,000 times and Mossack Fonseca has an office in the country, leading many to label the country a tax haven.

Speaking to CNBC Wednesday, the co-leader of the New Zealand Green party Metiria Turei , said the NZ Prime Minister was failing to address New Zealand's role in the Panama Papers scandal.

"Because John Key won't take the matter seriously, politicians are asking difficult questions and the prime minister is unable to handle questioning," she said.

Key's connection

Turei said a personal connection exists between Key and the Panama Papers and the leader is 'slinging mud' to deflect attention.

"Two years ago Key's own personal lawyer, who runs a company that sets up foreign trusts in New Zealand and who has worked with Mossack Fonseca, lobbied the Minister of Revenue to make sure that tax rules were not changed.

"So we have a connection with John Key and people he knows personally who want to keep the rules loose," said the opposition MP.

Turei also said Key had also consistently defended companies that had been identified in connection with trusts sheltered in New Zealand.

Jane Paterson, political editor at RNZ, is part of a New Zealand team of journalists working through the Mossack Fonseca files.

She told CNBC Wednesday that Key's naming of charities was explained away by government officials as a way to show it was wrong to pull names out of the Panama files and suggest guilt.

And on whether John Key himself had connections to overseas trusts, Paterson said there was no evidence found to suggest wrongdoing.

"Key has always maintained that he has had nothing to do with Mossack Fonseca and that his business dealings were legitimate and there is certainly nothing to contradict that," she said.

In 2005 Helen Clark, who is running to be the next Secretary-General of the United Nations, was the last New Zealand prime minister to be asked to leave the house.