Tag Archives: Panama Papers

Germany’s Federal Crime Office Says It Has Panama Papers

BERLIN — Germany’s Federal Crime Office(BKA) said on Tuesday it had obtained a copy of the leaked data known as the Panama Papers that last year revealed how offshore firms are used to stash the wealth of the world’s rich and powerful.

Some 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca were leaked to a German newspaper in 2016 and reports were published in cooperation with the U.S.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

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Panama Papers: The Downfall of a Scandalous Firm

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Three days after the Panama Papers were published at the beginning of April 2016, Jürgen Mossack spoke to the Wall Street Journal. The story put his law firm Mossack Fonseca (Mossfon) at the center of a global scandal that was covered by more than 100 media outlets around the world. The story revealed the law firm’s dark business dealings, which included links to Mexican drug cartels and one of the Syrian regime’s biggest financiers, as well as to dictators, arms smugglers, and tax evaders. One report described how the billions were funneled through an offshore network of president Vladimir Putin’s best friend. Jürgen Mossack’s law firm allegedly enabled corruption, helped its clients breach sanctions, and made a slew of other crimes possible. At the same time, Mossfon’s activities covered the perpetrators’ tracks.

In the days before the Panama Papers story broke, Mossack ignored all requests for comment, including the Süddeutsche Zeitung’s. In the interview with the Wall Street Journal, the German-born lawyer was defiant and aggressive. While he admitted that mistakes had been made, he denied that his law firm had broken any laws. He also stated that Mossack Fonseca would not just give up and “go plant bananas or something”. Rather, Mossack fully intended to keep doing business as usual.

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EXPERTS URGE PANAMA TO REFORM FINANCIAL SERVICES INDUSTRY

Panama must urgently address the perceived opacity of its offshore business model and do more to stop dark money flowing through its financial system, a report by a government-appointed panel of experts says.

The five-person Committee of Experts, appointed by the government of Panama on April 29 to advise the government on reforms to help the country move on from the global scandal of Panama Papers, delivered its report to President Juan Carlos Varela on Friday last week. The report was made public on Sunday.

“The moment has come,” the report says. “The country can no longer postpone decision-making in this field.”

The committee’s report comes more than seven months after the publication of a series of news stories by ICIJ and more than 100 media partners. The Panama Papers, as they are now known, revealed the inner workings of Mossack Fonseca, a law firm founded in Panama that has helped create offshore and sometimes secretive structures used by world leaders, wealthy individuals, drug lords and financial fraudsters.

The Committee of Experts’ 23-page report includes more than 30 recommendations for Panama, including policy reforms, tweaks and additions to Panama’s diplomatic toolbox such as the creation of a permanent “advisory committee” to implement the report’s recommendations.

The report, which devotes significant sections to praise of Panama’s economic growth and its “attractive” place in the global economy, also recommends strengthening Panama’s financial and non-financial regulators.

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Senator wants IRS to show what it’s done about tax fraud since Panama Papers reports

An influential Democratic senator has demanded answers from the IRS about what it has done since the Panama Papers were published last spring to combat tax fraud committed through anonymous shell companies.

Oregon’s Ron Wyden is the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee and could become its chairman if Democrats regain control of the chamber in November elections. He sent a three-page letter on Wednesday to Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, asking for data on required reporting about shell companies.

“It’s critical to determine whether our government has the right tools to discern legitimate businesses from criminal enterprises, and to identify what additional measures might be needed to fight financial crime,” Wyden said in his letter.

PAKISTANI COURT ISSUES NOTICE TO PM IN PANAMA PAPERS CASE

On Thursday, Pakistan’s Supreme Court issued notices for Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter, son and son-in-law and others to respond to calls by opposition politicians for Sharif’s resignation in the wake of Panama Papers.

The start of the Supreme Court hearing was the latest chapter in a battle between Sharif and members of the opposition that has roiled the country since April.

“Nawaz Sharif should be held accountable like the prime minister of Iceland who was also named in the Panama Papers,” said Imran Kahn, a former international cricket star who is now a prominent opposition politician. Khan told reporters outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad that the panel of judges gave Sharif two weeks to provide a response.

Sharif welcomed the Supreme Court hearing, noting that he has also set-up a commission to examine the Panama Papers’ revelations, including reports that some of Sharif’s children were linked to offshore companies and property in the United Kingdom.

Opposition parties have called for a city-wide protest on November 2 to lockdown the capital city, Islamabad, home to two million people. According to reports, protestors will block all roads leading to government offices.

Meanwhile in the United States, the Democrat’s most senior member of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden of Oregon, has demanded answers from the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of the Treasury about the ability of the U.S. to combat tax evasion and financial crime.

Using information obtained through ICIJ’s public Offshore Leaks database and through the committee’s own investigations into Panama Papers-related matters, Wyden sent a three-page letter on Wednesday seeking information on what thousands of shell companies linked to the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca have reported to U.S. authorities about their taxes and activities.

“It’s critical to determine whether our government has the right tools to discern legitimate businesses from criminal enterprises, and to identify what additional measures might be needed to fight financial crime,” Sen. Wyden wrote.

Overnight in Beirut, Lebanon, parliamentarians reportedly agreed to new laws that would keep Lebanon off a blacklist of tax havens.

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Panama Papers: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) moves against ‘owners’ of offshore companies

ISLAMABAD: 

Tax authorities have started sending letters to over 600 Pakistanis, who, according to the Panama Papers, own offshore companies, though chances of recovering due taxes from them are slim owing to legal lacunae.

“This week, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has begun the process of sending letters to hundreds of Pakistanis who have been named in the Panama Papers,” said FBR spokesperson Dr Mohammad Iqbal on Saturday.

“These people have been requested to confirm whether they own these offshore companies or not,” he added. The letters have been sent under Section 176 of the Income Tax Ordinance, which empowers tax officials to seek information about any transaction. However, the penalty for not giving information under Section 176 is mere Rs25,000.

The decision to send notices to about 600 Pakistanis coincided with Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaf’s ‘Pakistan March’ against the government over alleged corruption and delay in taking action against those who have been named in the Panama Papers.

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Bank linked to ‘Panapa Papers’ hit with $180M laundering fine

New York’s top financial regulator slapped a “Panama Papers”-linked bank with a $180 million fine for anti-money laundering violations.

Mega Bank, a $103 billion Taiwanese bank with one New York office, ignored the risks associated with transactions involving Panama, a high-risk area for money laundering, the state Department of Financial Services said in a statement on Friday.

The bank had “suspicious” accounts that were formed with the help of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of the “Panama Papers” leak, which revealed companies and wealthy individuals who dodged taxes, the DFS said.

 The bank had lax controls and relied on untrained personnel, including a chief compliance officer who wasn’t familiar with anti-money-laundering rules.