As a financial hub, Singapore is in the spotlight over the Panama Papers. Source: Pixabay
The Singaporean government says it is reviewing information from the so-called Panama Papers leak and doing the “necessary checks”.
The 11.5 million leaked documents from law firm Mossack Fonseca, which specialised in creating offshore shell companies in the tax haven of Panama, have exposed how the world’s rich and powerful people hid their money offshore.
“Singapore takes a serious view on tax evasion and will not tolerate its business and financial centre being used to facilitate tax-related crimes,” said the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) in a joint statement. “If there is evidence of wrongdoing by any individual or entity in Singapore, we will not hesitate to take firm action.”
Around 72 current and former world leaders were named over the weekend by a global journalist body after a year-long study of the documents.
In what is described as the world’s biggest insider leak, Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung obtained the data from an anonymous source and shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which reviewed it with around 370 reporters from more than 70 nations.
Among those implicated are Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of Chinese President Xi Jinping, the late father of UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Argentinean footballer Lionel Messi.
Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson has resigned after it was revealed his wife owned an offshore firm which had large claims on Iceland’s failed banks.
The Panama Papers provide evidence of tax evasion, money laundering, sanctions navigating and the drugs trade.
MOF and MAS said Singapore had a strong legal, tax and regulatory framework to tackle cross-border tax evasion and avoidance.
“Singapore is also firmly committed to upholding internationally accepted standards for exchange of information,” MOF and MAS claimed.
DBS CEO Piyush Gupta said the wealth industry was unlikely to be permanently damaged.
“The notion is that if all wealth will stay within domestic borders and if the tax is declared, I don’t think that is likely to happen. Most people, perhaps you and me, try to manage our wealth and keep it in centres where you get good financial advice and therefore, the bulk tends to go in that form,” he said. “There are some ‘bad guys’, who are not paying the taxes or doing some illegal stuff, so frankly, this deserves to be stamped out.”
International watchdog, the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, assessed the city-state’s exchange of information regime as “largely compliant” with the international standard.
This was similar to its assessment for the US and Britain, it said.