Australian police and tax officers carry out 18 raids on Panama Papers clients

Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission carried out raids after investigations into 800 clients of Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca

Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission together with more than 100 tax officers carried out 18 raids on Australian clients of Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca in the last week, with another 100 Australians notified of compliance action.

The AFP seized documents, electronic records and 170 kilograms of silver bullion and coins worth approximately $150,000 from a property in Camp Mountain, Queensland.

A request for comment from the Maltese minister of finance Edward Scicluna to reveal what the Inland Revenue Department was doing in its own inquiry into Panama Papers and Maltese clients who stashed earning abroad, was never answered.

The Australian Financial Review revealed in April that the Australian Tax Office was investigating 800 clients of Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.

German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung obtained 11.5 million Mossack Fonseca documents which it shared with more than 100 media partners.

While there were legitimate reasons to use offshore structures, “we believe that some of these structures and trusts are being used to evade tax, avoid corporate responsibility, disguise and hide unexplained wealth, facilitate criminal activity and launder the proceeds of crime”, the AFP said.

The AFP anticipated further criminal investigations. Approximately 80 of Mossack Fonseca's Australian clients were already in the ACIC data base as linked ot serious crime.  

“I think we need to keep in mind here that the professional facilitation networks that are behind a large amount of these schemes and scams are organised crime and we need to treat them as organised crime,” AFP Commissioner Andrew Colvin said. “So as matters are uncovered that are criminal in nature then… where we can there is a resolve to prosecute people.”

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