Thu, Apr 07, 2016 - Page 1 News List

DPP, NPP each propose tax evasion measures

PANAMA PAPERS:The DPP said the KMT had blocked such amendments in 2012, while Tsai Ing-wen’s brother denied any wrongdoing after he was named in the leak

By Abraham Gerber, Alison Hsiao and Crystal Hsu  /  Staff reporters

The ministry is to set up a special task force right away and cooperate with ICIJ in decoding documents involving more than 16,000 Taiwanese companies and individuals who might have used offshore accounts to cover up tax evasion, money laundering and other irregular activities, Minister of Finance Chang Sheng-ford (張盛和) told the legislature’s Finance Committee.

“The ministry is serious about the probe this time and will track down irregularities, if there are any,” Chang said after lawmakers questioned his resolve.

KMT lawmakers in 2013 staved off an anti-tax evasion bill on concerns it could have estranged Taiwanese businesspeople based in China, even though the Finance Committee had approved the bill.

The ministry is to submit the bill to the Cabinet again today and the elections of new lawmakers in January should help facilitate the legislative process, Chang said.

A successful probe requires a legal mechanism and information sharing pacts with foreign countries involved, he said.

The bill can arrive in the legislature next week and become law by the end of this session if lawmakers give the go-ahead, he said.

Offshore financial dealings are not illegal in themselves, but can be used to hide assets from tax authorities, launder the proceeds of criminal activities or conceal misappropriated or politically inconvenient wealth.

In related developments, an older brother of Tsai was named in the so-called Panama Papers as setting up an offshore company in 2008, his lawyer said yesterday, adding that he had done nothing illegal.

However, the news prompted criticism from Tsai’s political opponents, who called for a full explanation.

Tsai’s brother, Tsai Ying-yang (蔡瀛陽), set up the offshore firm in 2008 at the recommendation of a foreign private banking adviser on personal investments, his lawyer, Lien Yuan-lung (連元龍), told Reuters, declining to elaborate.

“He lost 30 percent of the investment in the first year, so he closed the contract with the bank immediately,” Lien said by telephone. “He was not involved in money laundering, hiding the Tsai family’s wealth overseas, evading tax or anything illegal.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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