Several EU finance ministers faced questions by a Parliamentary inquiry committee set up to investigate the revelations of the so-called Panama Papers – a trove of 11.5 million leaked documents from the world's fourth biggest offshore law firm. Politicians and public figures were among those named. The finance ministers discussed the problems in their countries and what's being done about them.
We cannot allow criminal activities to be left unpunished. A number of inquiries have been initiated arising from Panama Papers data. Panama Papers: the biggest leak to date. More than 11 million files from an offshore law firm were made public. The finance ministers of Germany, Ireland, Italy and the Netherlands faced questions from MEPs from the Parliament's inquiry committee, set up to investigate revelations from the leaks. To be quite frank, for too long the Netherlands has been part of this problem. And over the past few years, we have been part of a process taking important steps to fight tax fraud, tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering. Around one trillion euros in yearly tax revenue is lost to tax evasion and fraud within the EU alone — money that could've been used to fund education, health and other public services. Another part of the problem? Lawyers, bankers, accountants and others involved in setting up offshore schemes. Intermediaries play an essential role in setting up schemes in avoiding and evading tax. We are convinced we must require disclosure by intermediaries. Bottom line is: there's still not enough transparency. We've set up a transparency register to list the companies involved and we've tightened the sanctions for money laundering. While the leaks have prompted some changes, many questions remain unanswered. The committee report points out that what is known so far may just be the tip of the iceberg.