Britain to "tighten the screw" on tax evasion after Panama leaks

Britain promised to "tighten the screw" against tax evasion on Monday by investigating British use of tax havens revealed in the Panama Papers and introducing tougher legal framework.

Britain's tax authority and national crime agency will examine possible tax evasion and money laundering by British companies and individuals identified in leaked documents from the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm, 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," said Cameron, who has come under political pressure after his father's offshore investment fund was named in the Panama Papers.

"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," he said in a statement.

David Gauke, financial secretary to the Treasury, said the Panama Papers showed that "tax evasion is part of a wider set of international criminality ... 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," Gauke said. "Our message is clear: there are no safe havens."

Before Monday's announcement, police and tax officers were already investigating 700 "current leads with a link to Panama," the government said.

The government will also introduce new legislation to "hold companies who fail to stop their employees facilitating tax evasion criminally liable," Cameron said.

He was scheduled to address parliament later Monday, when he is expected to be grilled on his links to his father's investment funds, which legally avoided British taxes by registering in tax havens.

Cameron then came under renewed pressure after he published tax summaries on Sunday that show a 200,000-pound (280,000-dollar) gift from his mother. He had previously admitted to having inherited 300,000 from his father and sold shares in his father's offshore investment fund for some 30,000 pounds.

He initially said his father's registration of offshore funds in tax havens was "a private matter."

Cameron then made statements saying that he and his immediate family held no offshore assets and would not benefit from offshore holdings in the future.

On Saturday, in the latest of a series of brief statements on his links to the Panama Papers, he admitted that he was at fault for his widely criticized response.

Last update: Mon, 11/04/2016 - 13:48

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