Pandora Papers revelations: EU must do more, says Von der Leyen

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen condemned the practices brought to light in the huge data leak. PHOTO: AFP

HELSINKI (AFP) - The European Union must do more to combat tax evasion and aggressive tax planning, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Monday (Oct 4) in the wake of revelations in the Pandora Papers.

Speaking during a visit to Helsinki, von der Leyen condemned the practices brought to light in the huge data leak, which detailed how 35 current and former world leaders have used offshore tax havens to stash assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Tax evasion and aggressive tax planning is completely unacceptable," von der Leyen said.

"We have in the European Union some of the highest tax transparency standards in the world, but as we see it's not enough, more work is needed."

The documents, known as the Pandora Papers, were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and released in stories by media partners including The Washington Post, the BBC and The Guardian.

Allegations range from corruption to money laundering and tax avoidance.

Although holding assets offshore or using shell companies is not illegal in most countries, the revelations are embarrassing for leaders who have pushed austerity measures or campaigned against corruption.

Among those featuring in the leaked papers is former EU commissioner and Maltese minister John Dalli, accused of failing to declare a secret offshore company while an MP.

Dalli, who resigned as EU health commissioner in 2012 over a bribery scandal, said the company in the British Virgin Islands was "inactive", according to Maltese media.

On Monday von der Leyen referenced an EU proposal on the misuse of shell companies which she said is due by the end of the year.

"We'll come with an answer to the obvious problems that are still out there," von der Leyen said.

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