New international investigative research by the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) on the subject of tax evasion and money laundering was published today. The revelations are based on the largest tax data leak of all time. 600 journalists from 117 countries collaborated on this project. The enormous data set comprises 11.9 million documents from a total of 14 financial service providers. The names of numerous celebrities, politicians and billionaires appear in the records. The records show that tax evasion and financial crime continue to be possible on a large scale through letterbox companies and trusts. In the past, revelations like the Panama Papers had drawn attention to these practices.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:
“Tax evasion and money laundering continue to flourish through letterbox companies despite all past scandals. The policy measures taken after scandals like the Panama Papers are insufficient. We need stricter rules that ensure full transparency and more international information exchange. Tax authorities must also be able to tax capital income from abroad on real estate and complex letterbox companies. International rules make tax evasion for smaller amounts more difficult today, but the basic problem for large fortunes has remained. Anyone who has money and insolence can shirk their tax contributions. It cannot be possible that people can buy themselves out of their tax responsibility. When it comes to taxation, the rule of law appears to apply to some and not to others. Tax evasion endangers our democracy as people lose confidence in the rule of law. This is all the more true when political elites hide their wealth. Letterbox companies also enable corruption and money laundering.
The PandoraPapers show that the advances in international tax cooperation are not enough. The global minimum tax only applies to large corporations, but not to the letterbox companies of the wealthy and corrupted. We need full international transparency about the real owners of letterbox companies and real estate. The international exchange of information needs to be expanded to identify tax evaders. The new data leak must be a wake-up call. Global tax fraud fuels global inequality. We now have to expand and focus the counter dimensions. Thanks once again to the journalists who have done this research for the common good. “