Trust Bloomberg BNA's Premier International Tax offering for the news and guidance to navigate the complex tax treaty networks and business regulations.
Some European Union nations are scrambling to decipher and act on Panama Papers leaks that revealed 200,000 offshore entities held by wealthy individuals and businesses from across the globe.
Lawmakers from the Netherlands, Belgium and Austria outlined the experiences of panels launched by their governments following the massive leak of 10 million documents from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co. during a Jan. 31 meeting jointly held by the European Parliament Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Panama Papers investigative committee.
Belgium has set up a special committee without powers of inquiry to look into the revelations, said Ahmed Laaouej, chairman of the Belgian Special Committee on the Panama Papers. The Dutch government has organized a ‘mini-inquiry,’ an official said, and Austria has also set up a special committee on the leaks.
The European Parliament committee meeting—which invited judges, financial advisers and regulators—illustrates the problem of coordinating information obtained by the different authorities and services involved in anti-money laundering, as well as tax avoidance and evasion efforts, Belgium’s Laaouej said.
He added that European member countries still lack a harmonized list of tax havens. “We would like to have a homogeneous list of tax havens which could be used to fight against this particularly deleterious effect” of tax fraud and financial crimes, he said, noting that Belgium is calling for a European agency “against tax fraud and tax havens. Because this is occurring at the cross-border level, it’s not possible to deal with this at the national level.”
Kai Jan Krainer, vice-chairman of the committee on Finance of the Austrian National Council, said the meetings of the Austrian special committee formed to look into the Panama Paper revelations illustrated the need for transparency in the form of a publicly accessible ultimate-beneficiary-ownership register.
The committee’s meetings, he said, also outline the need for a ban on letterbox companies—as their only interest in tax residency is tax fraud—as well as better legal protection for whistle-blowers from within the financial services industry.
Krainer also backed the calls for a common EU tax haven list. “Blacklists are good. It helped Austria. We were threatened to be put on a blacklist because of our banking secrecy and it helped us become a more civilized country” and incentivized the country to participate in efforts aimed at the exchange of tax and financial information.
The Dutch government, meanwhile, elected to organize a yet-to-be-held short ’mini-inquiry’, under which people who are called up will have to testify under oath, similar to a U.S. congressional hearing.
Ed Groot, chairman of this Dutch parliamentary committee into tax structures, said the five-member panel is expected to organize its meetings after Dutch general elections in March.
“It will focus on issues of private trusts and the role of the Netherlands in facilitating so-called letterbox companies,” he said. “The main goal is to obtain more insight into the way trust office and tax advisers operate, and how tax schemes are set up in practice,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Linda A. Thompson in Brussels at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Penny Sukhraj at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2017 The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)