China tops list of people, firms hiding money in tax havens, reveal Panama Papers

Hong Kong: Hong Kong and mainland China top the global list of people and companies hiding money in secretive offshore tax havens, according to the Panama Papers database.

The database, which was made public by a group of global investigative journalists earlier on Tuesday, said the two jurisdictions together accounted for nearly one in four individuals or parties around the world who established the 366,000 overseas shell companies listed in the database.

The Panama Papers exposed 2, 14,000 of them, and the rest were named in an earlier expose in 2014, reports South China Morning Post.

Hong Kong alone contributed almost 26,000 individuals and entities or 10 percent of the total, while the mainland added 33,300.

Hong Kong’s Commissioner of Inland Revenue, Wong Kuen-fai, has said the city will follow up on the database release.

While it is not illegal to keep money in offshore accounts, the Panama Papers raised concerns about accountability, transparency and dubious deals.

Among current and former politicians found to have opened offshore companies, either for themselves or their previous employers, are innovation and technology minister Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung, former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen and lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun.

The Post, based on materials released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, found that Polytechnic University set up two BVI firms when Yang was a senior manager there.

The secret offshore financial dealings also implicated relatives of President Xi Jinping and other senior Chinese figures, aides to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and celebrities including Jackie Chan and Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi. (ANI)