The Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT), led by the Australian Tax Office, has made unannounced visits and issued warrants on Australians identified in the massive data leak known as Panama Papers.
As of now, the taskforce has made 15 unannounced visits in Victoria and Queensland, as well as executed three search warrants after analysis of the information from the leaked papers.
The taskforce will also contact and advise over 100 taxpayers that they are the subject of compliance action.
Minister for Revenue and Financial Services Kelly O'Dwyer said: “This week of action is the result of months of collaboration with domestic agencies to share intelligence and information in relation to individuals named in the data leak,” Minister O'Dwyer said.
“Our authorities have built a profile of more than 1,000 Australian taxpayers identified in the leak, and are reviewing intelligence provided to us by other tax jurisdictions. We have detected taxpayers and advisers linked to tax evasion, illicit funds flows, and corruption.”
According to estimates by AUSTRAC, the funds flow linked to the more than 1,000 Australians identified in the Panama papers amounts to over $2.5bn.
“People who avoid paying the right amount of tax must understand there is no place to hide,” O'Dwyer said.
At present, the AFP is leading 12 SFCT joint criminal investigations into serious financial crime. The Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) is working closely with the ATO, AFP and other partners across the SFCT to analyse Panama Papers-related data.
Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said: “Through the SFCT, Australia is well placed to deal with this type of behaviour and draw on the strong systems in place to detect and track down those who chose to break the law.”
The Panama Papers, leaked earlier this year, exposed the hidden offshore dealings of the world's affluent. The data leak resulted from over 11 million files being leaked from the Panama-based offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca and revealed many illustrious names.
The papers were obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung from an anonymous source and shared with various leading media organisations by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).