Since their release in early April, the so-called ‘Panama Papers’ have created a political firestorm in a number of countries and across several continents. Europe in particular has been heavily impacted by the revelations, with serious questions being asked of leaders in Iceland, the UK and elsewhere. For companies and financial institutions, the impact of the Panama Papers is likely to be felt for some time to come. With pressure being applied to politicians and governments across a number of jurisdictions, we are likely to see significant developments in the world of global tax compliance.

Released by a whistleblower, the Papers total around 11.5 million documents initially released to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which then involved the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The release of the Papers was an unprecedented leak from the database of the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s top creators of shell companies, which are corporate structures that can be used to hide ownership of assets. Ostensibly, the Papers demonstrate how a number of wealthy individuals, including public officials, have been able to keep their personal financial information private. The leak details 214,488 entities which are connected to people in more than 200 countries, 72 of which are former or current heads of state. Hundreds of politicians, business people and athletes have been implicated by the leak, which includes emails, financial spreadsheets, passport data and corporate records dating back to 1977. It is important to note that none of the individuals or companies contained within the papers have been accused of any wrongdoing.

Jul-Sep 2016 Issue

Richard Summerfield