Interesting report by Michael Field, writing in Stuff today
“New Zealand’s role in allowing easy shell company creation has been revealed by a UN Security Council report as a key component in efforts by North Korea to break international arms trading sanctions.
A 75-page report on North Korea’s sanctions busting efforts was released by the council in New York today after its publication was blocked for six months by China, a key ally for North Korea.
Written by a panel of experts it also reveals some new details about a shipment of arms seized in Thailand last December from an aircraft chartered by an Auckland registered company, SP Trading Ltd.
The report is embarrassing for New Zealand which tries to portray itself in the United Nations as a good global citizen…read his full article here
The incident involving SP Trading Ltd. was reported in the Bangkok Post in Dec 2009:
Gun-runner plane probe to take 1-2 weeks
It will take a week or two to complete the investigation into the impounded cargo of explosives, grenades and other weapons found in the plane from North Korea, Deputy Prime Minister Suthep Thaugsuban said on Thursday.
The 35-tonne load, including missiles and rocket-propelled grenades, was discovered after the plane and its a Belarussian pilot and four Kazakh crew landed to refuel at Bangkok’s domestic airport on Friday. No country had yet come forward to claim for the seized weapons, he said.
Thailand must be careful when saying where the Russian-made Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft was heading, or it could upset a lot of people, he said. He would announce the findings when the investigation was complete. Mr Suthep, who oversees security, said it was too early to say if Thailand could make use some of the weapons.
Meanwhile, the New Zealand government said it was investigating whether there were any links between a New Zealand-registered company and the huge cache of weapons flown out of North Korea.
“We are aware of the media reports and are seeking to verify any substance to allegations of a New Zealand connection,” a New Zealand foreign ministry spokeswoman said…
…A company called SP Trading is on the New Zealand Companies Register with an office in Auckland. The only listed director is Lu Zhang and all the company shares are owned by another company Vicam (Auckland) Ltd…” more here
Also see NZ Shell company ‘helped smuggle arms‘ -SMH Jan 2010
“New Zealand is reviewing its liberal system of company registration after a shell company based in the country leased a plane that smuggled arms from North Korea, the commerce minister says.
Adding to concerns is a spike in applications this month to set up New Zealand companies with only overseas directors and shareholders.
Some five per cent of the new applications are for foreign-directed companies – 56 out of a total 1125 received as of January 20, compared to about 3.6 per cent for all of last year, according to NZ government figures.
NZ Commerce Minister Simon Power said that the increase is “a particular area I’m looking at.” more here
A South Island respiratory specialist Dr Roland Meyer has linked a “terrible increase” in respirable problems in the city of Invercargill to poor air quality.
Apparently air quality standards have been breached 17 times this year, which is thrice the number of breaches in 2009.
An alarming rise in air pollution in Invercargill could be behind the “terrible” increase in respirable problems, says a Southland specialist.
Environment Southland figures show air quality in Invercargill has exceeded environmental standards 19 times this year, more than three times the six breaches last year.
Only one breach is allowed under the national standards.
The latest data shows pollutant readings at the council’s Pomona St site recorded a high of 78 micrograms per cubic meter of air, 28 micrograms above the threshold.
Southland Hospital respiratory physician Dr Roland Meyer said there had been a terrible increase in respirable problems in Invercargill this year and although he did not have “hard data” to back that up, he believed they were linked.
“Anecdotal evidence suggest people were worse off on the days that it [the air standard] was breached, but there is no evidence to back that up,” he said….read the full report here
Factors causing air pollution in Invercargill are thought to be linked to the large amount of coal burned (much of it in older homes in south Invercargill) and cool, still air settling over low lying areas.
But the problem of poor air quality isn’t restricted to Invercargill.
Despite a relatively low population and geographic isolation, urban areas in New Zealand suffer poor air quality during winter.
The Health and Air Pollution in New Zealand (HAPINZ) report estimated that each year around 1,100 New Zealanders die prematurely from air pollution with an associated health cost of $1.14 billion.
In May 2009 we wrote about air pollution in New Zealand. The Ministry of the Environment said that poor air quality is a significant issue in some areas of the country. Two thirds of the population live in areas that experience air pollution.
Most of the country’s poor air quality is caused by high winter levels of particulate matter (PM10) from wood and coal used for home heating. Auckland also experiences high levels of PM10 from road transport.
The are presently 43 airsheds across New Zealand where air quality is monitored, 26 of them don’t meet the PM10 standard. (as of June 2010)
The non-complying airsheds include Auckland, Christchurch and a number of provincial cities and towns (especially throughout the South Island).
By 2013, it is estimated that 10 airsheds will continue to exceed the PM10 standard with another five airsheds potentially also exceeding the standard. These 15 airsheds represent 45 per cent of New Zealand’s population.
Air quality in parts of NZ are so bad that the quality standards will be dropped because the previous standards are “unrealistic” and “unfair”:
The Government wants a standard that achieves material improvements in air quality without imposing unnecessary costs on businesses and communities…
“These changes are about improving air quality but in a pragmatic and realistic way “… “The Government wants a standard that achieves material improvements in air quality without imposing unnecessary costs on businesses and communities.”
Environment Minister, Nick Smith, has admitted that 10 NZ cities and towns are unlikely to meet air quality targets by the year 2013, and has said that the overwhelming proportion of pollution is caused by home fires.
The Invercargill article drew few responses from the paper’s readership, one giving a reason as to why coal is used extensively – hinting at the existence of fuel poverty in the region:
Southland and Invercargill is cold to heat ourselves, we make the choice of using coal as a energy product. Coal not only does it heat our home good, it also at least 100% cheaper than clean burning electricity. That is the crunch of why there is a problem electricity is ridiculously dear, what is unacceptable is the Southlanders who have no choice but use electricity to heat themselves, are turning of the heater in the middle of winter, and putting rugs round themsleves etc on as they simply cannot pay the increaseing electricity account.Jasz
Poorly insulated, old, damp housing in Invercargill. Who’d've thunk it?