The Prime Minister, David Cameron, has announced a new taskforce to deal with the so-called Panama Papers.
The taskforce will be jointly led by HMRC and the National Crime Agency and draws on investigators, compliance specialists and analysts from HMRC, the National Crime Agency, the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Conduct Authority.
The Prime Minister has committed to provide resources to ensure that the files are fully investigated, once shared with HMRC, including initial new funding of up to £10 million to support the taskforce’s work.
Between them, these agencies have some of the most sophisticated technology, experts and resources to tackle money laundering and tax evasion anywhere in the world.
The taskforce will report its progress to the Chancellor and Home Secretary later this year.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
The UK has been at the forefront of international action to tackle the global scourge of aggressive tax avoidance and evasion, and international corruption more broadly.
There is clearly further to go and this taskforce will bring together the best of British expertise to deal with any wrongdoing relating to the Panama Papers.
This world-class operation will report to the Chancellor and the Home Secretary on their strategy for taking action later this year, when we will update Parliament.
Financial Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said:
Everyone should pay their fair share of tax, just as the honest majority already does.
No government has done more to make sure we crack down on tax evasion and aggressive avoidance, both here in the UK and internationally.
But as the Panama papers show, tax evasion is part of a wider set of international criminality activity together with money laundering, illicit finance and evading sanctions.
The new taskforce announced today will further tighten the screw on those who think they can get away with dodging tax that’s due in this country. It will also further enhance our ability to tackle financial crimes across the board, leaving no stone unturned.
Our message is clear: there are no safe havens.
HMRC experts, who have tracked down £2 billion from offshore tax dodgers since 2010, are already investigating 700 current leads they have with a link to Panama.
This new taskforce will make sure the full arsenal of UK financial compliance is deployed, combining their skills to maximum effect.
The Chancellor is working with other major countries to speed up progress towards sharing beneficial ownership information, so that enforcement agencies can share information on who really owns companies. This would allow for more effective investigation of financial wrongdoing.
The UK will publish its own register of company beneficial ownership from June 2016, making it clear who the real owners of companies are, the first major country to have such a list in place and the information it contains will be free for anyone to access.
These latest actions build on strong action the government has taken since 2010 to revolutionise tax transparency and tackle tax avoidance and evasion.
In this Parliament alone the government will legislate for over 25 measures to make sure people do not get out of taxes due, together raising £16 billion by 2021.