Major ATO investigation follows 'Paradise Papers' release
The ATO says it has been investigating possible Australian links to tax avoidance for several months following an exposé by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) today.
Dubbed the “Paradise Papers”, 13.4 million records originating from global offshore law firm Appleby, Singaporean firm Asiaciti Trust and 19 corporate registries, were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the ICIJ.
The ATO said it had been working closely with partner agencies both locally and overseas for several months in anticipation of the data release by the ICIJ, and was analysing the data for possible Australian links.
“We anticipate further data may be published by the ICIJ and the ATO will continue to work closely with other tax administrations to share intelligence on advisers operating globally,” said ATO deputy commissioner international, Mark Konza.
“Domestically, we are working with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Federal Police, and AUSTRAC to further cross-check data and build our intelligence base, undertake audits, apply significant tax penalties where appropriate and refer cases to the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce for criminal investigation.
“Internationally, the Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC) is already collaborating within existing legal frameworks following the statement by Appleby last month.”
Mr Konza said he was confident the tax office would be in a position to respond decisively to the data reveal and urged Australians who may have undeclared offshore income to contact the ATO and make a voluntary disclosure.
“We know and trust that most people do the right thing, and that many taxpayers identified as part of the leak will be meeting their Australian tax obligations,” said Mr Konza.
“However, we investigate all leads and have the resources and expertise to take action against taxpayers or intermediaries found to be caught-up in the illegal use of offshore structures or providers.”