POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Ministry launches appeal in Panama Papers case



Paperjam.lu

The finance ministry in Luxembourg City (Photo: Benjamin Champenois) 

Luxembourg’s finance ministry is appealing a verdict by the administrative tribunal which said in September that the tax office could not seek information about clients from lawyers involved in Panama Papers deals. 

The Panama Papers revelations--which detailed information on offshore entities used for tax avoidance and optimisation--had included the names of several lawyers in the grand duchy.

The tax administration had tried gaining access to information on entities created through Mossack Fonseca--the law firm at the heart of the scheme--the beneficiaries of these companies, transactions carried out and other details.

But an administrative tribunal sided with a group of lawyers who brought the case before court, saying the tax office was overstepping its powers.

The tribunal said the tax administration can only request information specific to an ongoing investigation or audit. It dismissed the demands made in the wake of Panama Papers, saying they did not meet either of those criteria.

The Luxembourg bar association had previously criticised the tax office’s requests as a “fishing expedition”.

The finance ministry, however, in answer to a parliamentary question said it does not share this interpretation of the law and would therefore appeal the decision. The tax authority in October said it had received “a large quantity of documents” linked to the tax avoidance scandal from Germany, including emails, deeds, trust agreements, shareholder resolutions and copies of passports.

More than 10,000 companies in the Panama Papers were connected to Luxembourg. The Financial Sector Supervisory Commission (CSSF) in 2017 fined nine financial institutions a total of €2m after investigations based on the leaks. 

This article was originally published in French on Paperjam.lu and has been translated and edited for Delano.