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France Responds To Panama Papers Leak

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

06 April 2016

The French Government has responded to the so-called "Panama papers" leak by announcing that it is actively seeking information on possible evaders of French taxes, who, it warned, could face the full force of the law.

A statement published by the Finance Ministry on April 4 said that France is hoping to gather information via information exchange clauses in its double taxation avoidance treaty network. Taxpayers suspected of having evaded French taxes would then face possible criminal proceedings.

"Once this information [is] checked, we have legal tools to recover evaded taxes and apply penalties, including for holding undeclared offshore accounts or shell companies to escape the tax which would normally have [been paid] to France," the statement said.

President Francois Hollande has also confirmed that those found to have evaded French taxes will face legal proceedings.

The leak concerns more than 11.5 million internal documents belonging to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The data includes emails, financial spreadsheets, passports, and corporate records relating to the ownership of bank accounts and companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions. It covers a nearly 40-year period, through to the end of 2015.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin warned Panama in December 2015 that it risks being be placed on France's list of uncooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes if the French authorities' requests for administrative assistance are not dealt with expeditiously.

TAGS: Finance | tax | law | offshore | France | penalties | Panama | Tax | Tax Evasion

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