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Cyprus

Four law firms disciplined for failing to comply with Panama Papers’ instructions

Mossack Fonseca law firm sign is pictured in Panama City

Four law firms included in the so-called Panama Papers have been referred to the bar association’s disciplinary council for failing to comply with instructions, chairman Doros Ioannides told MPs on Wednesday.

Speaking before the House ethics committee, Ioannides said out of the 72 firms acting as intermediaries which were named in the documents, four had been referred to the disciplinary council after failing to comply with the association’s instructions.

The council will convene in March.

The head of the anti-laundering unit Mokas said they had secured a court order to freeze bank accounts belonging to a foreign national worth €15 million. The individual in question appeared in a number of companies relating to the documents.

Mokas head Eva Papapakyriakou added, however, that no suspicious transactions have been found so far.

The Panama Papers is shorthand for the widely publicised report of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, originally published on April 3, 2016.

A massive leak of 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca provided the investigative journalists with a trove of information about 200,000 entities incorporated in offshore havens, companies whose real owners were difficult or impossible to trace.

Mossack Fonseca (Cyprus) Ltd, a representative office of the Panamanian firm, was registered in Cyprus in 2003. The company asked to be deleted from the registry of companies registered in Cyprus in March 2016

“Compared with October, a lot of work has been done but I am afraid that at the end of the day the results are not the ones we expected to have at the beginning,” committee chairman Zaharias Zahariou said. “It emerged today that the only gain we will have comes from the actions of the tax department in relation with people’s tax files.”

Deputy tax commissioner Sotiris Markides told the committee that his department had identified 2,400 individuals and companies. It is asking 700 for information on revenues and property they had abroad from 2005 onwards and to submit tax returns.

The majority, he said, appear as directors and shareholders of companies included in the documents. They claim they are not the real owners but nominees.

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