Cyprus Mail

Some 600 identified in Panama Papers, deputies told

Akel MP Irini Charalambidou

THE tax department told MPs on Wednesday it has identified 600 individuals from 1,050 named in various companies included in the so-called Panama Papers, while the securities and exchange commission said it had located three Cypriot politically-exposed persons (PEPs).

The securities and exchange commission, CySEC, told MPs it had located 63 companies under its supervision, which had 983 clients or associates included in the papers.

CySEC boss Demetra Kalogirou said 61 out of the 983 were PEPs, including three Cypriots who were not politicians.

It transpired, Kalogirou said, that 20 out of the 61, may have a record, criminal or disciplinary, but it did not mean they had engaged in illegal activity.

She stressed to MPs that PEPs did not only refer to politicians but also to company board members, lawyers, accountants, and others.

Tax department official Sotiris Markides said they were checking whether the 600 have met their taxation obligations, starting with a sample of 50 individuals considered high risk.

The data, he said, did not show anything that should be made public.

“We will check all 1,050, when we identify them, whether they have complied with their tax obligations,” he said. Markides added that the department had capital statements from some of the individuals whom will be given priority.

The anti-money laundering unit, Mokas, said it was examining 200 old cases, two of which were related to Cypriot companies.

Distributed by a group of investigative journalists, the Panama Papers disclosed how rich and powerful people, including heads of state and convicted financial criminals, use shell companies to avoid paying taxes.

The documents centered on Mossack Fonseca, “the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm,” a global operation based in Panama with a presence in 42 countries, offering, among others, wealth-management services and incorporating offshore companies.

Mossack Fonseca (Cyprus) Ltd, a representative office of the Panamanian company, was registered in Cyprus in 2003.

The company asked to be stricken off the Cypriot registry of companies in May this year.

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