What US Panama Papers probe could mean for TT

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The United States Justice Department has launched a criminal investigation into the Panama Papers and there could be implications for Trinidad and Tobago.

The probe opens the door for direct association with the T&T authorities.

Attorney General Faris Al Rawi said last week that the Government will work with relevant agencies in and outside of this country.

The US Attorney for Manhattan Preet Bharara made the revelation of the American probe in a letter to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Bharara asked for the assistance of ICIJ.

He wrote: “The Office will greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak as soon as possible to any ICIJ employee or representative in the Panama Papers project in order to discuss this matter further.”

So far, most of the information remains in the hands of ICIJ journalists around the world.

The authorities in several countries have conceded that they have only seen what has been reported in the media.

The Panama Papers is made up of some 11.5 million documents and is said to be the biggest data leak in history.

Businessman and politician Ken Emrith is the only T&T national so far identified in the documents.

Attorney General Al Rawi told Parliament last week: “The local issues arising from the Panama Papers are receiving active attention, with particular focus on enabling the efforts of the requisite lawful investigative and prosecutorial agencies in and outside of T&T.”

He said that “authorities across the world are being spurred into action after the huge leak of confidential documents revealed how tax havens are used to hide wealth.”

The Panama Papers were leaked from the mega-legal firm Mossack Fonseca, which had acted on behalf of many leading international figures, including leaders, sportsmen and celebrities.

The leaked documents essentially tell of shell companies and secret bank accounts used to evade tax and other charges.

 Mossack Fonseca created some 200,000 offshore entities.

The US probe is expected to be far-reaching since that country is said to be the third biggest offender in facilitating tax secrecy and tax evasion.

The Trinidad and Tobago authorities have previously collaborated with the US administration in criminal investigations.

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