BERLIN – Germany is stepping up its campaign against organised crime by spending 5 million euros (5.7 million dollars) to buy the Panama Papers published last year.
Berlin officials confirmed to Deutsche Press Agency on Tuesday that Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA) had bought the papers, which contain a list of those exploiting secret offshore tax havens, as part of its bid to track down possible German-based tax fraudsters.
“These data are being looked into and evaluated with Hesse state’s tax authorities to pursue criminal and fiscal offences,” the BKA said in a joint statement with Hesse’s finance ministry and the public prosecutor’s office in Frankfurt.
Some 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung in 2016 and reports were published in cooperation with the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
The Panama Papers, published by several media groups around the world, named those who had used Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, a Central American tax haven, to stash their millions in offshore accounts.
They included politicians, their families and close associates from around the world.
In September 2016, Denmark agreed to pay an anonymous source for information about hundreds of Danish nationals mentioned in the data leak.
Notables named in Panama Papers
Twelve national leaders are among the 143 politicians, their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens.
The national leaders named in the Papers include Britain’s ex-prime minister David Cameron, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif, Iraq’s ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president Ayad Allawi, Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko, Iceland’s ex-prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, and the son of Egypt’s former president, Alaa Mubarak.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been under pressure for a year in the face the Panama Papers’ revelations that his children owned shell companies that held homes in London.
In September, thousands of protesters stormed Islamabad’s streets to call for Sharif’s resignation. Opposition parties have been attacking him in court, alleging that Sharif failed to declare his family’s offshore connections. Sharif and members of his family deny wrongdoing.
A joint investigation team (JIT), probing the Panama case against the ruling family, is entering a crucial stage, with the investigation heading towards conclusion.
In India, focus has been fixed on the efforts of the multi-agency taskforce created to investigate India’s black cash scandals: just last month, regulators announced that their probe has expanded to 424 Indian clients of Mossack Fonseca.