State Bank checks on companies and individuals listed in Panama Papers

By Thanh Thanh Lan   May 11, 2016 | 07:31 pm GMT+7

The State Bank of Vietnam has checked money laundering data connected to companies and individuals mentioned in the Panama Papers and said it is willing to cooperate with relevant agencies if they need to look into Vietnamese companies and individuals’ financial activities abroad.

Nguyen Van Ngoc, director of the National Anti-Money Laundering Department, told VnExpress that the department has looked into its own data and checked the information published in the Panama Papers.

The department will also cooperate with any ministry or department that needs information to conduct an investigation.“For example, if tax authorities want to look into any company or individual money transfers overseas, the department will support them,” Ngoc said.

However, the information in the Panama Papers is only a source for reference and not sufficient to conclude if Panama-linked companies and individual are involved in tax evasion or not.

Many companies listed in the papers yesterday said that their investment activities in the countries listed in the papers are legal.

Truong Van Phuoc, deputy chairman of National Financial Supervisory Commission, said he considered these denials of tax evasion an act of self-defense and proved nothing.

According to Phuoc, the existing laws on foreign investment and oversea money transfers are strict so if the allegations are true, the problems may stem from loose management and the involvement of authorized agencies in tax evasion.

“All money flowing out of the country via official means must be cleared by the State Bank’s Bureau of Foreign Exchange Management, regardless of whether its indirect, direct investment or individual money transfers, even with ambient transactions,” Phuoc said.

189 companies and individuals in Vietnam are linked to the Panama Papers and the 2013 Offshore Leaks, according to the leaked files released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), along with Sudetendeutsche Zeitung, on Tuesday.

Some Vietnamese entrepreneurs named in the Panama Papers who work in the financial, real estate, securities and consultancy sectors have confirmed their names but claim their outward investments are legal.