QCOSTARICA – Reacting to the leaked information in the Panama Papers about Costa Rican businessmen, companies and bankers, the Ministry of Finance (Ministerio de Hacienda) has said it will open an investigation on the individuals, companies and law firms mentioned in the international journalist investigation report.
In Costa Rica, the Semanario Unversidad and AmeliaRueda.com have had access to the thousands of documents in which at least 18 Costa Rican politicians, businessmen and banks have links to Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm that helps its clients create offshore companies and avoid or evade paying tax in their home country.
While the creation of offshore companies is not illegal, they could be used for illegal purposes, says the International Consortium of Journalists Research (ICIJ) who received more than 2 terabytes of information leaked from Mossack Fonseca and is sharing it with the media worldwide, whose reports were published Sunday.
“The Ministry of Finance will initiate the relevant investigations of individuals, companies and law firms that have been mentioned in an international investigation conducted based on leaked documents from a Panamanian corporation, where possible acts of evasion and defrauding unreported taxes,” says the Hacienda press release on Monday.
Tax audits are one of the tools the Ministry of Finance can apply to determine undeclared tax. The Ministry of Finance added that it will be seeking help from other jurisdictions (though it did not name Panama directly) for information regarding their investigations.
Helio Fallas, Costa Rica vice president and Minister of Finance urged the need for the country to have a “modern legislation regarding Added Value taxes and Income Tax” through the adoption of a fiscal reform (currently before legislators) that allows close loopholes that can lead to tax evasion, as well as a registry of shareholders created through the law against tax fraud.