Earlier in the year an unknown source leaked 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm of Mossack Fonseca – these are now referred to as the ‘Panama Papers’.
Basically, the documents illustrated how some wealthy individuals are hiding their money and income from tax authorities around the world.
The Commissioner of Taxation, Chris Jordan, has announced that the ATO has made significant progress in dealing with those exposed in the Panama Papers who have tried to avoid their tax obligations.
He went on to say that, having commenced the assessment of the data, the ATO believes that some overseas structures and trusts are being used to:
- evade tax
- avoid corporate responsibility
- disguise and hide unexplained wealth
- facilitate criminal activity and launder the proceeds of crime.
The ATO has obtained information on offshore service providers who have established entities for Australians in secrecy jurisdictions to conceal their interests and wealth.
“Importantly, the sheer size of the information available to us for analysis should send a clear message to those who believe that their data is secure, hidden and beyond the reach of law enforcement and tax authorities – it is not.”
In related news, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has revealed that it has obtained a leaked Bahamian corporate registry which provides names of directors and owners of more than 175,000 Bahamian companies, trusts and foundations registered between 1990 and early 2016, which will also be made available to the public.