Singapore investigates Panama Papers claim

panamapapersAuthorities in Singapore are reviewing the information being reported in connection with the Panama Papers leak and are doing the “necessary checks”, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said on Wednesday (Apr 6).

The leaked papers comprise 11.5 million documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specialises in creating offshore shell companies in the tax haven of Panama. The documents exposed how some of the world’s most powerful people have secreted their money offshore.

“Singapore takes a serious view on tax evasion and will not tolerate its business and financial centre being used to facilitate tax related crimes,” MOF and MAS said in a statement.

“If there is evidence of wrongdoing by any individual or entity in Singapore, we will not hesitate to take firm action.”

Among those accused are close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the late father of British Prime Minister David Cameron and Argentine footballer Lionel Messi.

Also implicated was Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who has announced he will step down after the leaked papers showed his wife owned an offshore firm with big claims on Iceland’s collapsed banks.

While holding money in offshore companies is not illegal, the leaked documents could provide evidence of wealth hidden for tax evasion, money laundering, sanctions busting, drug deals or other crimes.

MOF and MAS said Singapore has put in place a strong legal, tax, and regulatory framework, coupled with a rigorous supervisory regime, to tackle cross-border tax evasion and avoidance.

“Singapore is also firmly committed to upholding internationally accepted standards for exchange of information,” MOF and MAS said.

The Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, the key international body that assesses jurisdictions’ implementation of the international standards on tax transparency, has assessed Singapore’s exchange of information regime as “largely compliant” with the international standard.

This is similar to its assessment for jurisdictions such as US and the UK, the statement said. (Courtesy Channel News Asia)

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