Belgian tax authorities are to conduct an investigation following the revelations made by Le Soir, Knack, MO* and De Tijd in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the office of the Finance Minister, Johan Van Overtveldt, made clear on Sunday evening. These media sources say that 732 Belgians are implicated in this huge tax fraud scandal.
The Finance Minister will entrust the task of investigating both the identity of individuals and companies implicated and the nature of financial arrangements put in place to the Inspection Spéciale des Impôts (ISI – Belgium’s special tax inspectorate).
Johan Van Overtveltdt reiterated that the so-called “Cayman tax”, voted in during 2015, which allows the Belgian tax authorities to directly impose in Belgium tax upon any foreign arrangement, will constitute an interesting tool as this affair unfolds.
Earlier in the evening, the deputy Peter Vanvelthoven (of the sp.a – Alternative Progressive Socialists) had indicated his intention to ask the Minister to conduct an investigation into the Belgian individuals concerned, as well as the role that Belgian banks may have played in the structuring of these arrangements.
These revelations are considered by the Belgian media who have disclosed them as “the largest leak in the history of journalism.” They concern 11.5 million documents which revolve around 214,000 offshore companies, located in 21 tax havens.
The firm Mossack Fonseca, based in Panama and amongst the global champions of intermediary company tax domicile, is in the eye of the storm for having created and/or managed literally hundreds of thousands of such companies.
Panama constitutes one of the most opaque financial centres and is generally seen as the crossroads for both money laundering and fraud.