Pandora Papers – a new leak of financial records

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A new huge leak of financial records revealed by ICIJ, once again shows widespread use of offshore accounts, shell companies and trusts to hide wealth and/or avoid taxes.

The new leak is known as the Pandora Papers and follows other recent leaks – lux leak, panama papers, paradise papers.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained 11.9 million confidential documents from 14 separate legal and financial services firms, which the group said offered “a sweeping look at an industry that helps the world’s ultrawealthy, powerful government officials and other elites conceal trillions of dollars from tax authorities, prosecutors and others.”

“The key players in the system include elite institutions – multinational banks, law firms and accounting practices – headquartered in the U.S. and Europe.”

The Consortium said the 2.94 terabytes of financial and legal data shows the “offshore money machine operates in every corner of the planet, including the world’s largest democracies,” and involves some of the world’s most well-known banks and legal firms.

“The Pandora Papers provide more than twice as much information about the ownership of offshore companies. In all, the new leak of documents reveals the real owners of more than 29,000 offshore companies. The owners come from more than 200 countries and territories, with the largest contingents from Russia, the U.K., Argentina and China.”

“Pandora Papers” leaks: Statement by Bob Hamilton, Chair of the Forum on Tax Administration and Chris Jordan, Chair of the FTA’s Joint International Task Force on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration

On October 14, a statement was issued by the OECD

The Forum on Tax Administration and its Joint International Task Force on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC) are already working collaboratively in response to the recent “Pandora Papers” leaks. This follows the model successfully adopted for the Panama and Paradise Papers leaks.

14/10/2021 – The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has recently released information relating to its review of data leaks referred to as the Pandora Papers. As a result of the strong partnerships established through its JITSIC Network, the OECD Forum on Tax Administration (FTA) is well positioned to enable a collaborative approach to identifying and addressing aggressive tax avoidance and tax evasion involving multiple jurisdictions once the data becomes available.

The FTA is dedicated to tax transparency and tax co-operation through the delivery of its collaborative work programme, and its members have access to a range of tools and platforms to help tackle offshore tax evasion and avoidance, including:

The FTA’s JITSIC network, which provides an effective and well-established platform to its 42 members to cooperate directly on individual cases, as well as sharing their experience, resources and expertise. This direct and immediate collaboration proved to be very effective following the Panama and Paradise Papers leaks. JITSIC, like tax administrations more generally, operates under strict rules designed to protect the confidentiality of information and the confidence of taxpayers. As a consequence much of the work of JITSIC is not always visible to the public.
The OECD standard on the exchange of information on request, which provides a powerful framework for tax administrations to receive detailed information on taxpayers’ offshore affairs from 163 jurisdictions.

The OECD Common Reporting Standard (CRS) under which there is automatic reporting of information between more than 100 jurisdictions on the offshore financial accounts of non-residents, to their jurisdiction of residence. Information on these financial accounts, as well as the requirements envisaged by the transparency and exchange of information on request standard, ensure greater transparency of ownership of companies, trusts, and other similar structures, the importance of which has been illustrated in the Pandora Papers.

As has been the case with previous leaks, JITSIC members will continue to work together to pool resources, share information and rapidly develop a more accurate picture of potential wrong doing in order to facilitate further investigations. While the information contained in such leaks can be of value in investigations, the inclusion of information about an individual or entity in a data leak does not automatically mean that there has been non-compliance.

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