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Panama Papers investigation leading to further reviews

Member: Nifa

Following the disclosure earlier this year of the ‘Panama Papers’, Chancellor Philip Hammond has revealed this week that the financial affairs of a further 43 wealthy individuals are under review. When the details first came to light, then Prime Minister David Cameron announced the creation of a cross-agency taskforce to analyse all the information. This consisted in the main of forensic investigators who are expert at tracing money and assets that people have attempted to hide.

Speaking in the Commons this week, Mr Hammond said that the taskforce had “added greatly to the UK’s understanding of the ever-more complex and contrived structures that are being developed to mask offshore tax evasion and economic crime”.

Through the painstaking investigation, links have now been established to eight active Serious Fraud Office inquiries and several law enforcement authorities are also involved in the wider investigation, including the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the National Crime Agency (NCA). In fact, the NCA has identified 26 offshore companies whose beneficial ownership of UK property was previously concealed and whose financial activity had been identified as “potentially suspicious”. 

Meanwhile, a further two properties and a number of companies relevant to an NCA financial sanctions inquiry have also been identified while, in another joint investigation with the FCA, the NCA had identified a number of leads relevant to a major insider-trading operation.

It comes as no surprise that a forensic investigation involving experts such as forensic accountants would yield such information, as these professionals do not give up until every thread has been followed to its end, no matter where it might lead. As a spokeswoman for HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) said, with the taskforce on the case, there are no longer any safe havens for hiding money offshore.

Author: Roger Isaacs, 11 November 2016

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