Friday, October 28 2016


Local authorities launch Panama Papers inspection

Update: May, 13/2016 - 09:00
Local ministries and agencies have affirmed that they would continuously verify information related to Vietnamese persons and companies listed in the Panama Papers, and act on the information.— Photo

HÀ NộI – Local ministries and agencies have affirmed that they would continuously verify information related to Vietnamese persons and companies listed in the Panama Papers, and act on the information.

The action would be taken in accordance with Việt Nam’s legal regulations, they added.

The announcement came after several Vietnamese names were included in a huge database of secret offshore companies, as part of the Panama Papers and Offshore Leaks investigations posted online this week.

Phạm Trọng Đạt, director general of the Government Inspectorate’s Anti-corruption Bureau, said what has been unveiled in the Panama Papers should be considered a source of reference for Việt Nam’s relevant agencies to verify.

It is important to clarify the accuracy of that data first so as to take the following steps, he noted, and added that the data is not official information released by foreign authorised agencies, but an agency founded by international journalists.

The inspectorate has reported the information to the government and the Party Central Committee, he said.

The Vietnamese persons and companies listed in the Panama Papers should also be examined, Đạt said.

He noted that persons and businesses have been named in the Panama Papers does not mean they have violated the law, and there is a need to verify the information.

Representatives from the General Department of Taxation said that the department has also set up a board to verify the information.

However, they added that the verification would take time as the information must be considered very carefully with the participation of not only taxation but also many other relevant ministries and agencies.

The State Bank of Việt Nam (SBV) has so far also entrusted its relevant agencies to closely check on the Panama Papers, Nguyễn Văn Ngọc, director of the SBV’s National Anti-Money Laundering Department, said.

Ngọc said that the department will also co-operate with other relevant ministries and agencies to deal with the cases in accordance with their respective functions and the country’s legal regulations.

Although some Vietnamese names are published in the Panama Papers, no detailed information on the operations or transactions undertaken in the cases has been published yet, he said.

According to Ngọc, Việt Nam’s foreign currency regulations are currently adequate to cover a range of issues, from payment transactions to money transfers in and out of Việt Nam for current accounts, capital transactions and opening of foreign accounts.

Trương Văn Phước, deputy chairman of National Financial Supervisory Commission, said it will not be sufficient to conclude if Panama-linked companies and individuals are involved in tax evasion or not.

A conclusion on money-laundering or tax evasion of persons and companies listed in the Panama Papers must be based on how the country with a parent company regulates operations along with its subsidiary.

Lawyer Trương Thanh Đức, chairman of BASICO Law Firm, said this is a case without precedent so it has no specific regulations or procedures. Especially, he said, it is not just related to Việt Nam but also many other countries.

Therefore, Đức said, domestic relevant ministries and agencies should ask the named persons and companies to report why they are listed in the Panama Papers, and then verify the information.

It is necessary to exchange information with other countries to be able to better verify the cases, however, it is not feasible unless Việt Nam has signed agreements on fighting crime, legal assistance or double taxation avoidance with the countries, Đức said.

The Panama Papers, disclosed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) after they were obtained from Panama law firm and corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca, includes 11.5 million documents, some of which date back to the 1970s, that detail the financial and the attorney-client information of more than 214,488 offshore entities.

Preliminary investigation by the ICIJ found that the law firm created offshore companies to help some 140 politicians, including 12 serving or former world leaders, along with sports stars and drug dealers to evade tax payments.

After first reports published by the media on April 3, ICIJ this week continuously published more data from the Panama Papers, in which 189 companies and individuals are in Việt Nam.

Some Vietnamese entrepreneurs named in the Panama Papers, who work in the financial, real estate, securities and consultancy sectors, have so far confirmed their names but claim their overseas investments are legal.

The revealed information has not so far had a negative impact on local markets. – VNS

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