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EU Council favours more tax transparency in Europe

By Stelios Orphanides

The Council of the European Union, a policy coordinating body comprised of ministers of member states, said that it is in favour of action to ensure more tax transparency in Europe following the Panama Papers leaks back in April.

“The council adopted conclusions in response to a (European) Commission communication on tax transparency following the April 2016 Panama Papers revelations,” it said in an emailed statement on Tuesday. “The conclusions highlight the continued need to prevent the large-scale concealment of funds, which hinders efforts to clamp down on tax evasion, money laundering and terrorist financing”.

The Panama Papers, as the leak of a large customer data base of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca was called, revealed that a large number of politicians, companies, celebrities and criminals from around the world set up a network of offshore companies in an attempt to evade tax or launder illicit funds. The leaks included information on how Russia’s ruler Vladimir Putin shuffled about $2bn through various offshore companies through Cyprus, and information on offshore companies held by the father of the former British Premier David Cameron.

In July, the European Commission recommended a more coordinated approach to prevent tax abuse in Europe and elsewhere, by enhancing tax transparency, reducing opportunities for aggressive tax planning and promoting global good governance on taxation.

“Whilst progress has been made at EU level, loopholes remain and further action is envisaged,” the council said.

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