PARIS – The French authorities have started probe into 560 individuals over tax avoidance based on information revealed in the leaked Panama Papers, it has been learnt.
Among many others, the French taxpayers are also suspected of having money stashed away through shell corporations in offshore tax havens such as the Bahamas and British Virgin Islands.
‘Probe has begun on 560 taxpayers’, a finance ministry spokeswoman confirmed. A source privy to the developments said the probes could take several months to complete.
The taxpayers who used Mossack Fonseca’s services had hidden away 4 billion euros ($4.3 billion) in assets for which the French government is due to recuperate 1.2 billion euros in unpaid taxes and fines, according to Minister of Budget, Christian Eckert.
Another 724 taxpayers had also used the Panamanian firm for concealing assets but were already known to French tax authorities, who in 2013 created a service (STDR) to give those holding undeclared offshore accounts the chance to whiten their money.
By mid-September the STDR had received overall 47,000 requests from taxpayers to normalise their situation. It related to 28.8 billion euros of assets for which 6.3 billion euros of unpaid taxes and fines have been recovered.
France is not the first country to publish the number of tax probes it has launched into entities linked to the Panama Papers.
In September, Denmark also confirmed it was working on 320 cases implicating 500-600 taxpayers.
The Papers, which were published at the initiative of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), showed how some wealthy individuals, public officials and even sports stars had been keeping assets in offshore accounts to avoid tax.
The Supreme Court in Pakistan is also currently hearing a slew of petitions seeking a probe into off-shore holdings linked to ruling family named in Panama papers truce.