EP inquiry committee to probe Panama Papers

Members to decide on list of individuals once committee has been fully set up

An inquiry committee of the European Parliament will be investigating Panama Papers, a leak from Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca that revealed massive international tax evasion.

The setting up of the inquiry committee was unanimously backed by the European Parliament Conference of Presidents, which unites the EP president and political group leaders.

A cross-political group of MEPs will now work to develop a mandate for the inquiry committee. The  mandate will be determined on May 4 by the Conference of Presidents, with the full House taking a vote during the May plenary session in Strasbourg.

A spokesperson for the European Parliament told MaltaToday that the list of individuals set to appear before the committee will be decided “once it has been fully set up”.

According to regulations, the committee of inquiry shall conclude its work by submitting a report within not more than 12 months.

Greens/EFA co-president Philippe Lamberts welcomed the decision to set up the parliamentary inquiry committee, as they had proposed.

"We welcome this decision and the willingness of other political groups to treat the Panama Papers revelations with the seriousness they deserve. The Panama leaks show we have so far only been looking at the tip of the iceberg of the odious tax avoidance practices employed by wealthy individuals and businesses around the world and Europe,” Lamberts said.

Panama Papers revealed detailed information on offshore companies and their ultimate beneficiaries. Since the trove of over 11 million confidential documents was leaked earlier this month, several politicians have been caught in the ensuing maelstrom. The fallout forced Iceland Prime Minster Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson out of the office, and cost Spain's acting industry minister, José Manuel Soria, his job.

The opposition has called for the resignation of Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi and OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri following the revelations.

The name of Micaela Domecq Solis-Beaumont, wife of EU commissioner for Energy and Climate Protection Miguel Arias Canete, also turned up amongst the thousands of names listed in the leak. The EU Commission however dismissed it as “apparently” harmless.

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