Feeds

'WikiLeaks of financial data' prompts worldwide hunt for tax evaders

'We’re coming after you' - taxman warns

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

A cache of data amounting to a whopping 400 gigabytes of information leaked by bank insiders has triggered an offshore tax evasion investigation across the United States, the UK and Australia.

Tax authorities in the the three countries are examining the leaked data, which reveals the complex offshore vehicles used to stash assets of wealthy nationals and their companies. The data includes 260 gigabytes of financial records leaked through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

The journalists' stockpile spills details on shell companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Singapore and other offshore havens. Some of these arrangements may be perfectly legal, however, as both US Internal Revenue Services (IRS) and HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) point out.

The ICIJ said it had laid its hands on 2.5 million files that include the names of thousands of American, Australian and British citizens as well as what it describes as

... families and associates of long-time despots, Wall Street swindlers, Eastern European and Indonesian billionaires, Russian corporate executives, international arms dealers and a sham-director-fronted company that the European Union has labeled as a cog in Iran’s nuclear-development program.

The ICIJ said it believes the 260GB it gathered is the main component of a total database of 400GB including names of organisations, their individuals owners and advisers.

“The 400 gigabytes of data is still being analysed but early results show the use of companies and trusts in a number of territories around the world including Singapore, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and the Cook Islands,” HM Revenue & Customs said in a statement.

“The data also exposes information that may be shared with other tax administrations as part of the global fight against tax evasion.”

Blighty's taxman said it had identified more than 100 people who "benefit from these structures and a number of those individuals had already been identified and are under investigation for offshore tax evasion". More than 200 UK accountants, lawyers and other professional advisors to these individuals also face a possible grilling by the HMRC. "No safe havens for offshore tax cheats," a statement from HMRC warns.

The ICIJ reckons the files show cash transfers, incorporation dates and links between companies and individuals that illustrate how "offshore financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe, allowing the wealthy and the well-connected to dodge taxes and fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations alike".

The IRS notes:

There is nothing illegal about holding assets through offshore entities; however, such offshore arrangements are often used to avoid or evade tax liabilities on income represented by the principal or on the income generated by the underlying assets. In addition, advisors may be subject to civil penalties or criminal prosecution for promoting such arrangements as a means to avoid or evade tax liability or circumvent information reporting requirements.

The IRS, Australian Tax Office and HM Revenue & Customs are working together to analyse this data and have uncovered information that may be relevant to tax administrations in other countries. They plan to share the data, along with their preliminary analysis work, with tax authorities in other countries. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
Apple SILENCES Bose, YANKS headphones from stores
The, er, Beats go on after noise-cancelling spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.