A global leak of almost 12 million financial documents, referred to as the Pandora Papers, has exposed the secrets of the rich.
The Pandora Papers have identified enterprises that set up and manage shell companies and trusts in tax havens around the world. While owning an offshore company is legal, such structures may be used to launder proceeds of crime and enable bribery, tax evasion, terrorism financing and human trafficking.
What does the ATO think about the Pandora Papers?
ATO Deputy Commissioner and Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) Chief Will Day said “While the information in data leaks is interesting, we don’t rely on data leaks to do our job. We detect, investigate and deal with offshore tax evasion year-round”.
Mr Day continued to explain that the ATO will analyse the information to identify any possible Australian links, and that it will leverage its international partnerships to identify and address international tax evasion and crime.
Mr Day stressed that being included in a data leak doesn’t automatically mean that a crime has been committed, saying “There are a range of legitimate reasons that someone may have for an offshore bank account or structure. We know most Australians do the right thing. However, there are some who attempt to hide their ownership interests or financial misdoings through offshore arrangements”.
“From the very first data leak, we responded quickly through the Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC). JITSIC brings together 42 national tax administrations that have committed to more effective and efficient ways to deal with tax avoidance and evasion,” Mr Day said.
Mr Day also highlighted the role of the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce and the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement, whose important work, combined with that of JITSIC, ensures that the ATO is well equipped to respond to data leaks.