Five years after the leak of the so-called Panama Papers, the Belgian tax authorities have recouped €30 million in unpaid taxes. Worldwide, the gains have exceeded one billion dollars.
The Panama Papers is the name given to a massive leak of documents from the lawyers Mossack Fonseca in Panama, containing details of transactions from across the world, intended to evade taxation.
The documents were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and then divided among the members of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which includes three Belgian reporters: Kristof Clerixx of MO* and Knack, Lars Bové of De Tijd and Xavier Counasse of Le Soir.
The papers revealed that no fewer than 732 Belgian residents had set up financial channels to offshore tax havens from Samoa to the Virgin Islands. As the ICIJ itself says, there is nothing intrinsically illegal in using tax havens. But in many of the cases uncovered, there was much that was illegal.
More than four years after the initial leak, in August last year, the German federal tax administration handed over bulk data from the leak, containing the Belgian figures.
“The Special Tax Inspectorate has reached a total of €29,975,434,” Francis Adyns, spokesperson for the federal finance ministry told Knack. “Of this, €15,382,992 was paid. And 242 of the 266 files have been closed.”
On the basis of returns collected by the ICIJ from 24 countries, tax authorities worldwide have recouped $1,364,987,603 (€1.15 billion) in dodged tax.
Belgium is far down the list of countries who have recouped unpaid tax. The table is headed by the United Kingdom ($252.8 million), followed by Germany ($195.7 million), Spain ($166.5 million), France ($142.3 million) and Australia ($137.7 million).
Belgium ($18.5 million) lies in 15th place, between Sweden ($19.3 million) and Malta ($16.5 million).