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Minggu, 03 Oktober 2021

Secrets of the rich and famous: ATO to review Pandora Papers leak - Sydney Morning Herald

The tax office says it will analyse a trove of secret documents released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that allegedly show the secret tax affairs of the super wealthy and famous to see if it can identify any possible Australian links.

The consortium of journalists, made up of 600 reporters from 117 countries including Australia, on Monday released a trove of private financial documents that it said exposed the offshore business structures being used by scores of billionaires as well as royal families and the elite to hide their affairs from tax authorities.

The ATO will set its sights on the Pandora Papers, which reveal details of offshore accounts.

The ATO will set its sights on the Pandora Papers, which reveal details of offshore accounts.Credit:Louie Douvis

The data leak is the most recent of many projects by the ICIJ based on documents sourced from firms that specialise in setting up complex offshore business structures for wealthy clients. Local news outlets The Australian Financial Review, the ABC and Guardian Australia are all members of the consortium.

The leak, dubbed the “Pandora Papers” by the consortium, came from 14 separate entities around the world, including Asiaciti, a company established by Sydney accountant Graeme Briggs, according to the ICIJ journalists. There is no suggestion that Mr Briggs was involved in any wrongdoing.

The ICIJ said the files revealed secret offshore holdings of more than 130 billionaires including 46 Russian oligarchs. The files also revealed the 14 firms served bankers, large political donors, arms dealers, international criminals and pop stars, including Elton John and Ringo Starr. The documents also details of the affairs of the rich and famous including details of how a Russian woman who reportedly had a child with Russian President Vladimir Putin purchased a luxury home in Monaco.

In a statement on Monday morning following the release of the documents overnight, the ATO said it would be “analysing the information to identify any possible Australian links”.

ATO Deputy Commissioner and Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) chief Will Day said in a statement on Monday that the ATO didn’t rely on data leaks to do its job but said the tax office would review the trove of documents.

“We will certainly look at this data set and compare it with the data we already have to identify any potential connections,” Mr Day said.

Mr Day said it was important to remember that being included in a data leak doesn’t automatically mean that there has been tax evasion or crime.

“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,” Mr Day said.

Mr Day said staff from the ATO and our partner agencies form an impressive intelligence capability that uncovers crime.

“The message is clear for those who try to cheat the system – your secrets are no longer safe, and you can expect to feel serious consequences for your actions. No complicated money trail is too difficult for us to unravel.”

“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.”

Asiaciti defended its compliance program when contacted by The Guardian Australia and the ABC saying each of its offices had passed third-party audits for anti-money laundering in recent years and it had an intense focus on that area.

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2021-10-03 23:02:27Z
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