The ABC is reporting on what has been dubbed the Paradise Papers, being an “unprecedented dump” of documents out of global offshore law firm Appleby, Singapore-based Asiaciti Trust and 19 corporate registries.
The public broadcaster had access to about 13.4 million documents leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and shared through the ICIJ.
The tax office has been aware of the leak for several months, and is in the process of analysing the intelligence to identify possible Australian links.
“Domestically, we are working with the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Federal Police, and AUSTRAC to further cross-check data and build our intelligence base, undertake audits, apply significant tax penalties where appropriate and refer cases to the Serious Financial Crime Taskforce for criminal investigation,” said the ATO’s deputy commissioner, international, Mark Konza.
“Internationally, the Joint International Taskforce on Shared Intelligence and Collaboration (JITSIC) is already collaborating within existing legal frameworks following the statement by Appleby last month,” he said.
“We anticipate further data may be published by the ICIJ and the ATO will continue to work closely with other tax administrations to share intelligence on advisers operating globally,” he said.
For their best shot at a favourable outcome, the ATO encourages any Australians who suspect they may have undeclared offshore income to make a voluntary disclosure.
“We know and trust that most people do the right thing, and that many taxpayers identified as part of the leak will be meeting their Australian tax obligations,” Mr Konza said.
“However, we investigate all leads and have the resources and expertise to take action against taxpayers or intermediaries found to be caught-up in the illegal use of offshore structures or providers,” he said.