Inspectors from the anti-fraud unit of Portugal’s tax authority are to analyse the Paradise Papers information, recently published by the international consortium of journalists, but won’t be buying the detailed information held on file.
The Tax and Customs Authority (AT) is fully aware of the revelations in the Paradise Papers and will be doing its own thing when investigating the names relating to Portugal.
The AT will not request information directly from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (CIJI) as it feels this is unnecessary, at this stage of its inspection.
The strategy adopted by the Portuguese tax administration is similar to that followed in early 2016 when the Panama Papers appeared. This was a huge leak of information that enabled Portugal’s tax inspectors to analyse 165 tax residents in the country which triggered just 13 inspections.
The first step is cross-referencing the published information with the AT files to look for evidence of tax evasion and aggressive tax planning. The second phase is for the anti-fraud unit to exchange information with external bodies.
The Paradise Papers contains references to more than 70 Portuguese nationals, including former directors of Grupo Espírito Santo and Banco Português de Negócios (BPN) – the bust bank that was bailed out and then failed amid allegations of corruption and mismanagement.
Of the 763 Portuguese names in the Paradise Papers, there are only three offshore companies, two in Bermuda and one in the Cayman Islands.
Asked by journalists from Público if it intends to request information from the international consortium of journalists about Portuguese names, the office of the Secretary of State for Tax Affairs, António Mendonça Mendes, said that the consortium has adopted a policy of not giving additional information, referring enquirers to the information it has made public.
Mendes could have just said “no.”
With the low hit rate for tax evaders listed in the Panama Papers, the media is not holding its collective breath that anything much will come of the latest revelations.
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