MOF to form task force to decipher leaked papers

by George Liao

Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford said on Wednesday that the Ministry of Finance (MOF) will form a task force to investigate Panama Papers files in connection with Taiwanese clients to understand if any of them were involved in tax evasion.

Chang said that the task force will begin with those who have strong possibility of committing tax evasion and will exclude government officials, scholars and individuals.

The reason to exclude them is because they usually are not very rich people and therefore have low possibility of using tax heavens, Chang added.

Some Taiwanese enterprises set up offshore companies for the purpose of indirectly investing in China during the era when direct investment in China was not legally allowed, while some set up offshore companies solely for the purpose of evading tax, he said.

When asked by the media what if some sensitive names turn up in the individual list such as President-elect Tsai Ing-wen’s brother, Chang said the task force would then need to verify the person’s purpose of setting up an offshore company.

Chang told reporters that the MOF has so far got a very short list of Taiwanese names in connection with the Panama Papers, adding that the ministry will immediately request its Department of International Fiscal Affairs to collect more related data.

The MOF task force, armed with tax expertise, will work with Common Wealth Magazine to expedite the process of deciphering the Panama Papers files that are connected with Taiwanese clients, Chang said.

Common Wealth Magazine is one of the 109 media outlets around the world that have worked with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) to decipher the leaked eleven million documents held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.

They show how the company has helped some clients launder money, dodge sanctions and avoid tax.

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