Newscast Media WASHINGTON—World leaders have scrambled to react to the leak of a trove of documents linking many of them to secretive offshore companies that enabled vast sums of money to move around the world hidden from law enforcement and regulators.
A massive report called The Panama Papers, published simultaneously by multiple news organizations in multiple languages on April 3, divulged details about the offshore holdings of 12 current or former heads of states, including Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
The leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca also revealed that relatives or associates of 17 other current or former leaders held offshore accounts, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Several world leaders on April 4 confronted the report head-on, saying the report did not reveal anything implicating them in wrongdoing.
Poroshenko took to Facebook to defend himself after the leaked documents reportedly showed that he moved his confectionary business, Roshen, to the British Virgin Islands in August 2014 amid some of the heaviest fighting between Kyiv’s forces and Russia-backed separatists.
“Having become president, I recused myself from the management of my assets and delegated this to the respective consulting and law firms,” Poroshenko wrote. “I expect that they will provide all necessary details to the Ukrainian and international media.”
He added that he took the issues of income declaration, paying taxes, and conflicts of interest “very seriously” and was in “in full compliance with the Ukrainian and international private law.”
Earlier in the day, the head of Ukraine’s populist Radical party called for an impeachment investigation of Poroshenko over allegations he used the offshore account to avoid taxes. Ukraine’s Prosecutor-General’s Office said it had seen no evidence that Poroshenko committed a crime based on the leaked documents.
In Moscow, meanwhile, the Kremlin slammed the leak of the tax documents as an attack aimed primarily at Putin.
Putin is not named in the leaked documents. But the report claims to have documented a vast network of shady money transfers, several of which it details, used by close associates of Putin to funnel as much as $2 billion into offshore shell companies.
“Putin, Russia, our country, our stability and the upcoming [parliamentary] elections are the main target, specifically to destabilize the situation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on April 4.
He added that there was “nothing new or concrete” about the Russian leader in the leaks and suggested that U.S. intelligence was behind the revelations.
“We know this so-called journalist community,” Peskov said. “There are a lot of journalists whose main profession is unlikely to be journalism: a lot of former officials from the [U.S.] State Department, the CIA, and other special services.”
The information stems from millions of e-mails, spreadsheets, corporate records, and others materials leaked from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm with representatives in dozens of countries that specializes in setting up shell companies, the report says.
The leaked data was initially provided to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. It was then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), based in Washington, which collaborated with media outlets around the world over the course of a year to organize, analyze, and publish the materials.
The British government has requested a copy of the leaked data, which could prove embarrassing for Prime Minister David Cameron, who has been a vocal critic of tax evasion.
His late father, Ian Cameron, is mentioned in the documents, as are members of the prime minister’s Conservative Party in the upper house of parliament, former Conservative lawmakers, and party donors, according to British media reports.
“We will closely examine this data and will act on it swiftly and appropriately,” said Jennie Granger, director-general of enforcement and compliance at the British Revenue and Customs.
Cameron’s spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the prime minister’s family had invested in offshore entities set up by his father, calling it a “private matter.”
Source: Radio Free Europe
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The Securities and Exchange Commission has
charged corporate executives with conducting a massive accounting fraud in which
they repeatedly reported fake revenues in order to meet financial targets and prop up
the stock price.
The SEC alleges that four executives in China orchestrated the scheme at AgFeed
Industries Inc., which was based in China and publicly traded in the U.S. before
merging with a U.S. company in September 2010 and spreading its operations
between the two countries. CONTINUE TO FULL STORY>>
Newscast Media WASHINGTON—The United States has signed agreements with the Cayman Islands and Costa Rica to implement the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the U.S. Treasury Department said November 29. The bilateral pacts represent the first FATCA agreements in the Caribbean and Central America.
The department said on its website November 19 that “FATCA is rapidly becoming the global model for combating offshore tax evasion and promoting transparency.”
“Today’s announcement marks a milestone in the effort to promote global tax transparency,” said Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Tax Affairs Robert B. Stack. “These agreements underscore growing international cooperation in the effort to end tax evasion everywhere.”
FATCA, enacted in 2010, seeks to obtain information on accounts held by U.S. taxpayers in other countries. It requires U.S. financial institutions to withhold a portion of payments made to foreign financial institutions that do not agree to report information on U.S. account holders. The foreign institutions have the option of entering into agreements directly with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. government agency responsible for tax collection and tax law enforcement, or through one of two alternative agreements signed by their home country.
The Cayman Islands signed a “Model 1B agreement” November 29, meaning that financial institutions there will be required to report tax information about U.S. account holders directly to the Cayman Islands Tax Information Authority, which is the sole channel in the Cayman Islands for sending tax-related information to other governments. The Cayman Islands Tax Information Authority will relay that information to the IRS. Additionally, the Treasury Department said, the United States and the Cayman Islands signed a new Tax Information Exchange Agreement to replace one signed in 2001.
“By working together to detect, deter and discourage offshore tax abuses through increased transparency and enhanced reporting, we can help build a stronger, more stable and accountable global financial system. We look forward to collaborating with the government of the Cayman Islands to further these objectives,” said Julie Nutter, minister-counselor for economic affairs at the U.S. Embassy in London, who signed on behalf of the United States.
The Costa Rica agreement was signed November 26 and is a “Model 1A agreement,” meaning that the United States will also provide tax information to the Costa Rican government on Costa Rican citizens with accounts in the United States.
“Today’s signing marks a significant step forward in our efforts to work collaboratively to combat offshore tax evasion — an objective that mutually benefits both our countries,” said Gonzalo R. Gallegos, chargé d’affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Costa Rica, who signed on behalf of the United States.
In addition to the 12 FATCA agreements that have been signed to date, the Treasury Department said, it has also reached 16 agreements in substance and is engaged in related conversations with many more jurisdictions.