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Panama leak could reveal more Australians

AAP

AAP

Serious criminals are among the Australians named in the Panama Papers, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) says.

About 800 Australians were in the 11 million documents leaked from the law firm Mossack Fonseca, which revealed widespread tax avoidance.

Tax Commissioner Chris Jordan told a parliamentary inquiry into corporate tax avoidance the ATO had already been investigating some of the companies and individuals named in the papers.

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He said the ATO had linked 120 of those named to an offshore company in Hong Kong – although he did not name the company.

Mr Jordan said he was particularly concerned by the number of people on the list who were also involved in organised crime.

“Around 80 names match the Australian Crime Commission’s serious and organised crime intelligence holdings,” he said.

ABC

Senators speak to the media after a Senate Committee hearing into corporate tax avoidance. Photo: ABC

“These are not people with outstanding parking fines or traffic notices. They are in the database of serious and organised criminal holdings.”

The ATO’s Michael Cranston said the list covered a wide range of offences, “from very serious – the bikie gangs, etc – all the way through to promoters of tax schemes”.

The Panama Papers revelations have intensified the political debate about tax avoidance.

Mr Jordan told the committee he was determined to use his full powers to crack down on companies which have dodged their tax obligations.

“We do have a strong kit bag to utilise,” he said.

“We are getting on with the job but it will take time. But I do want to assure the community we’ll leave no stone unturned, as we put the whole picture together.”

He also flagged the ATO was hoping to work with the Federal Court to fast-track “strategically important” cases of multinational tax avoidance.

“They are very cooperative and interested in how we can appropriately identify and work with them to get things up quicker,” he said.

-ABC

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