Carthy questions journalists as Panama Papers inquiry opens
Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has welcomed the first session of the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into the Panama Papers leak which took place in Brussels this morning.
Carthy, a full member of the inquiry, said
“The Panama Papers inquiry held its first hearing this morning, where MEPs heard from and engaged with the journalists from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), who made the revelations.
“I was able to question the journalists directly during the hearing on exactly what action national tax authorities have taken since the Panama Papers leaks.
"We know that the Danish government, for example, has purchased data relating to Danish citizens implicated in the leak to investigate and prosecute any possible illegal activity.
“But, as the ICIJ journalists confirmed to me, many national tax authorities have failed to take any meaningful action in following up on these revelations.
“I have written to Irish Revenue to seek a meeting in order to discuss the Irish links to the Panama Papers.
“My priority during this inquiry will be on investigating Irish links to the Panama Papers.
"For example, an Austrian branch of Anglo Irish Bank (now IBRC) was reportedly on a seven-bank list Mossack Fonseca directed clients to use for several years as they made the fewest demands on revealing beneficial ownership.
"The partly state-owned Bank of Ireland’s Jersey branches are repeatedly named in the Panama Papers.
“There are also a number of mainly US vulture funds and hedge funds that have set up in the International Financial Services Centre in Dublin – where they pay a few hundred euro per year in tax, buy up distressed mortgages from Irish banks and contribute to a housing and homelessness crisis by aggressive repossessions. Many are linked to the Panama Papers.
“The other main issue we want to look into is the role of the intermediaries in facilitating tax avoidance and criminal activities such as money-laundering and tax evasion. These include law firms, consultants and the ‘Big Four’ accountancy firms. These intermediaries need to be regulated and held accountable for this role.
“The Bahamas leaks revealed last week confirm the need for urgent action on tax avoidance, tax evasion and money-laundering at the EU and international level.
“I hope that through this inquiry, we can propose effective further steps towards transparency, for the full and automatic exchange of information between different jurisdictions, for the true beneficial owners of all companies and trusts to be recorded in a public registry, and for the international protection of whistle-blowers.”