Recently, eleven million documents were released without authorization in a leak being referred to as the Panama Papers. The documents came from one of the most secretive companies in the world -- a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca. The leaked documents provide a comprehensive paper trail showing how tax havens have been used to hide wealth and avoid tax liability. The documents involve clients from throughout the world who used offshore tax havens, including many current or former heads of state, as well as at least 60 people who have strong ties to current or former world leaders.
According to the BBC, the director of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has referred to the leaked documents as “probably the biggest blow the offshore world has ever taken because of the extent of the documents.”
Leaks like this one will provide information to investigators worldwide to help trace transactions and find how money moved around the globe without coming to the attention of taxing authorities. This will arm investigators with more information that they need to target tax havens and go after accountholders for unlawful practices.
The release of the Panama Papers showing the extent of offshore money transactions may also increase public pressure to go after suspected tax evaders. All of this is bad news for people with offshore accounts, and they should consider speaking with a Washington DC criminal tax lawyer sooner rather than later.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE PANAMA PAPERS
There are currently 107 media organizations in 76 different countries who are analyzing the leaked Panama Papers. The source of the papers is unknown, and the Panamanian law firm from whom the papers were leaked indicates it has operated “beyond reproach” for 40 years with never an accusation or charge of wrongdoing. The papers essentially show virtually all of the day-to-day transactions which the law firm facilitated, some of which allegedly reveal that the firm helped clients evade taxes, dodge sanctions and even launder money.
Just days after the release of the Panama Papers, the leaks have already begun having a profound impact worldwide. The leaks show money has been channeled through offshore companies with close ties to Vladimir Putin, as well as revealing that the Prime Minister of Iceland had an undeclared financial interest in failed banks within his country. The leaks also reportedly reveal some of the services that were offered to clients, including to U.S. millionaires, such as establishing fake ownership records to hide money from taxing authorities.
Those who were involved with Mossack Fonseca can expect to face scrutiny of their transactions as more information from the Panama Papers comes to light and is reported over time. However, anyone with offshore funds needs to be aware of the fact these papers will be bringing increased scrutiny to offshore tax havens at a time when the government is already aggressively going after people with offshore accounts. A DC criminal tax lawyer like Kevin Thorn can provide assistance to those who become caught up in enforcement efforts. Call him as soon as possible if you have concerns you will be accused of violating tax laws with your offshore accounts.