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Denmark receives Panama Papers data to fight tax dodging

Associated Press Associated Press 29/09/2016 By JAN M. OLSEN, Associated Press

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Denmark has received data leaked from a Panamanian law firm that helped customers open offshore companies to avoid paying taxes, authorities said Thursday, adding they paid nearly 6 million kroner ($902,500) for it.

Jim Soerensen, an official with the Danish Customs and Tax Administration, said they "were given permission Sept. 9 to run through the material before we paid."

Soerensen said they now will "go deeper" to see whether people in the documents should be investigated for tax dodging.

"I can't speak on behalf of other countries, but I can say that we in Denmark are open about what authorities here do," he told The Associated Press. "Contact with the anonymous source was made through another country." He declined to name the source or the country, but said contacts were made via encrypted text messages.

The taxation authorities had received information containing legal documents, agreements, and correspondence, he added.

"If we find any information that regards another country, we will pass on that information as international agreements say," Soerensen said.

Earlier this month, the Danish authorities said they had received an anonymous offer to acquire data from the so-called "Panama Papers" that could involve up to 600 people. At the time they didn't disclose the price.

Soerensen said 4.7 million kroner ($706,960) were paid directly to the source and 1.2 million kroner ($180,500) in taxes on the transaction, which he said was made "recently."

A majority in Denmark's Parliament had supported buying some of the documents, although it was not clear how many lawmakers backed the plan as there had been no public vote in the assembly.

The Panama Papers, which consist of records on 11.5 million offshore holdings, were originally leaked to a German newspaper, which shared the data with a global network of investigative journalists, leading to a series of media reports in April. In May, the journalists made the names of 200,000 offshore entities available in a searchable database.

The repercussions of the leak have been far-ranging. The uproar led to the resignation of the prime minister of Iceland, and brought scrutiny to, among others, the leaders of Argentina and Ukraine, Chinese politicians, as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin and his friends.

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