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Cyprus

Auditor general requests tax data for politically exposed persons

President Nicos Anastasiades will return on Wednesday

Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides said on Thursday he will be formally requesting that the Tax Department hand over to him data on the tax returns of politically exposed persons (PEPs) from the year 2008 to the present day.
Discussion continued at the House watchdog committee over whether PEPs were hiding assets abroad, in the wake of the so-called Lagarde list, the Panama Papers and, more recently, the Paradise Papers.
MPs had earlier urged the auditor-general to discover if, and when, a number of officials – including president Nicos Anastasiades, ministers and party leaders had filed tax returns since 2008.
Lawmakers claim that Tax Commissioner Yiannis Tsangaris is keeping under lock and key several files of prominent people and won’t share this information, citing personal data privacy.
On the Panama Papers, Tsangaris informed MPs that Cyprus is mentioned 6300 times.
His department’s investigation has identified some 3000 individuals, and sent letters requesting tax information to around 700 of these.
MPs were riled to hear Tsangaris say his department does not possess a list of money outflows from Bank of Cyprus and now-defunct Laiki Bank for the period which the banks were officially closed from March 16 to March 27, 2013.
Lawmakers pointed out that the list of people who took their money out of the country during the ‘closed period’ is widely available online.
Tsangaris replied that his department sought the data from the central bank, which provided only some names, but not the tax identifiers.
Despite that, he said, the tax department did manage to identify a number of people banking with Bank of Cyprus who had transferred their money abroad during the time.
Most of the money outflows were from accounts belonging to foreign nationals, mainly Greeks and Russians, he said.

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