The Serious Financial Crime Taskforce, led by the Australian Tax Office, has this week been serving warrants and making unannounced visits on Australians identified in the Panama papers.
The taskforce, using information gathered from the leaked papers, knocked on the doors of 15 people in Victoria and Queensland and executed three search warrants.
Another 100 taxpayers will be contacted and advised they are the subject of compliance action.
“This week of action is the result of months of collaboration with domestic agencies to share intelligence and information in relation to individuals named in the data leak,” says Kelly O’Dwyer, federal minister for revenue and financial services.
In May, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists published a huge database detailing how some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people legally hide their cash — dubbed the Panama papers.
The database consists of more than 200,000 companies, trusts, foundations, and funds incorporated in 21 countries and countless names of the wealthy people who shelter their cash there.
In Australia, authorities have built a profile of more than 1,000 taxpayers identified in the Panama papers.
“We have detected taxpayers and advisers linked to tax evasion, illicit funds flows, and corruption,” says O’Dwyer.
“While offshore structures and trusts do have a genuine purpose for many individuals and corporations, we believe that many of these structures and trusts are being used to evade tax, avoid corporate responsibility, disguise and hide unexplained wealth, facilitate criminal activity, and to launder the proceeds of crime.”
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) this week executed a search warrant at a home in Queensland in relation to allegations of serious tax evasion, fraud and money laundering.
The AFP is currently leading 12 joint criminal investigations into serious financial crime.
Financial intelligence agency AUSTRAC estimates that the amount of funds linked to the Panama papers is over $2.5 billion from more than 1,000 Australians.
So far, four people have received jail sentences following prosecution.
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