European Parliament Studies on behalf of the Panama Papers Inquiry Committee

Following the Panama Papers revelations, the European Parliament decided to set up a special Committee of Inquiry to investigate alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion. A paper prepared by Policy Department A aimed to serve as a preparatory document for the Committee’s investigation.

Subsequently the Panama Papers Inquiry Committee itself has requested a number of studies, which have been presented in two sessions on 27 April and 2 May 2017.

1. The first study focuses on the impact of tax havens and offshore financial centers on the budgetary, economic and financial systems of the Member States. The study recalls the key legislation in place within Europe and in the rest of the world to limit the impact of tax havens and offshore areas and proposes a number of rules to effectively strengthen current legislation to better combat the negative effects of tax havens.

2. As an advance of this study and its limitations another study was published by the EPRS, which focusses on the roles played by Member State administrative and judicial authorities in fighting tax evasion and money laundering. The study is based on answers from Member States in response to a questionnaire and is very comprehensive. It examines the extent to which the provisions related to FIUs in the third Anti-Money Laundering Directive – that were to be implemented by the Member States by 15 December 2007 – have been properly implemented. The four countries under examination are Canada, France, Switzerland and the UK.

3.  A third study comprises updated findings to the EU ‘ECOLEF’ project (2013) and focuses on mutual cooperation and reciprocal arrangements between FIUs and tax authorities. It concludes that FIUs need access to tax-related data and information to effectively fight tax crimes and that in at least two Member States (Germany and Ireland), FIUs do not have access to tax-related information.

4. A fourth an fifth study present findings and recommendations on the roles of intermediaries or enablers and promoters and the rules applicable to them in offshore schemes.

The first looks into the roles of advisors and intermediaries in the schemes revealed in the Panama Papers.

The second looks at rules on independence and responsibility regarding auditing, tax advice, accountancy, account certification services and legal services.

5. The last study examines offshore practices in EU Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs). The study attempts to analyse the conditions for tax evasion, tax avoidance and money laundering. However, not all OCTs have been analysed.