Politicians around the world need clarification – Brussels wants to crack down on email companies

After exposing secret mailbox companies to hundreds of politicians around the world, damaged prominent figures such as Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis or Jordan’s King Abdullah II tried to justify themselves and dismissed the reports. Babis described what was revealed on Monday as an attempt to slander ahead of parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic due to be held in a few days. The Jordanian royal family described the information as “distorted and exaggerated.” The Kremlin has dismissed reports of inexplicably large fortunes among close associates of President Vladimir Putin, describing them as “baseless allegations”.

Regarding the latest revelations about global mailbox companies in the “Pandora Papers”, the European Commission wants to toughen its measures against tax evasion. On Monday in Brussels, a spokesman for Economic Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni, Daniel Ferri, indicated a proposed law is planned by the end of the year.

The spokesperson stressed that tax evasion and avoidance is not only a matter of the European Union, but “global issues that must be addressed around the world”, and according to the Commission, the planned legislative proposal aims to “increase tax transparency and combat tax evasion.”

In May, the Commission submitted a letter on future corporate taxes to the 27 member states and the European Parliament. Among other things, he proposes to “neutralize” the abuse of email companies by international companies. The Commission did not wish to comment on information provided by investigative journalists about practices in the European Union.

According to media reports, today’s Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis is said to have bought, largely anonymously, a country castle in southern France for more than 15 million euros through mailbox companies. For him, the timing of the publication is particularly sensitive because a new parliament will be elected in the Czech Republic on Friday and Saturday.

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The international research network ICIJ published “Pandora’s Papers” on Sunday. The assessment of nearly twelve million documents from offshore financial service providers places a burden on more than 330 politicians and officials worldwide, including 35 current and former heads of state and government. They are said to have done a great deal of covert work through letterbox companies. However, authorities must check on a case-by-case basis whether the work is illegal.

It is said that the Czech Prime Minister Babis today bought anonymity a rural castle in southern France for more than 15 million euros in 2009. “SZ” quoted Camille Koba, a former Czech financial crime investigator, who stated that the order It’s probably not about tax optimization, but rather about hiding the origin of the money: “It’s like something out of a textbook on money laundering.”

For Babis, the timing of the publication is particularly sensitive because a new parliament will be elected in the Czech Republic on Friday and Saturday. He defended himself on Monday, “I have done nothing illegal or wrong.”

Putin’s straw men?

According to the research, Russian President Vladimir Putin is not listed as a client of one of the providers of services abroad, but many of those close to him are listed. Accordingly, at the same time as Putin’s political ascendancy, they anonymously invested money, mostly of unknown origin, in tax havens. Kremlin critics suspect they may be “straw men of Putin’s fortune”.

The case of Svetlana Kryonogich, from whom, according to unconfirmed reports, Putin reportedly gave birth to a daughter, was striking. According to the “S.Z” website, the woman from a humble background made great fortunes after the birth of her daughter through money from mailbox companies. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed all references to Putin in the research as “a series of completely baseless allegations”.

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According to research, Jordan’s King Abdullah II is said to have used at least 30 offshore companies in tax havens to purchase 14 luxury properties in the United States and Great Britain. The royal family of Oman stated that it was only the head of state’s private property. Concealment via mailbox companies served security and discretion.

The president of Cyprus with the help of his family “abroad”

As it was revealed, Nicos Anastasiades, Cyprus’ EU head of state, has been active in offshore business with a law firm now run by his daughters. For Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selinsky, these discoveries led to politically unpleasant financial relations with the controversial oligarch.

The search should also be hot for politicians and policymakers who want to appear as opponents of tax havens – such as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. It has been proven that he legally avoids paying stamp duty on a multi-million dollar property in London by buying the offshore company that owns the property.

Celebrities such as German model Claudia Schiffer, former Beatle Ringo Starr and pop star Shakira also appeared in the search. Shafer and Shakira, according to “S.Z”, indicated that they adhered to all laws and regulations.

On the occasion of “Pandora’s Papers”, the German federal government called for greater action against tax havens. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Finance noted that significant progress has been made towards an international minimum corporate tax. The European Union Commission in Brussels has indicated a planned legislative proposal against tax evasion and avoidance.

Frank Goble

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