The Panama Papers—Denmark the First Country to Take the Bait

By: Evan Friedland

The fallout from the Panama Papers continues, as Denmark has now become the first country to publicly purchase the information—and it is not being released for peanuts.

For those who do not know, the Panama papers are a collection of roughly 12.7 million documents detailing the offshore bank account information of suspected tax evaders and money launderers all over the world.[1] The Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca controlled the data, but was hacked and the information was then given to the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung.[2] The German newspaper subsequently released the data to investigative journalists around the world this past April, which led to the Panama Papers becoming a global phenomenon.[3] The papers have already exposed global celebrities, politicians, and businessmen including “associates of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, relatives of President Xi Jinping of China[,] and the soccer star Lionel Messi.”[4]

The transaction began as anonymous source communicated with the Danes through encrypted channels, which—combined with the amount of money demanded—understandably led to questions regarding the legitimacy of the documents.[5] In order to confirm the authenticity of the information, Denmark was given a free sampling and after no more than a few short months, the Danish government determined that the documents were well worth their substantial cost.[6] Early reports are that the information may cost approximately $1.8 million.[7]

While some may regard the significant price tag as prohibitive, Dennis Flydtkjaer, a Danish politician, asserts that tax evasion has cost the country billions of dollars.[8] Denmark not only seeks to prosecute the nearly 600 Danish citizens connected to the leak, but also the Danish banks, which have maintained lax policies allowing its customers such easy means for hiding their assets.[9] Additionally, the information will give the Danish government crucial insight to the new and undiscovered methods that are being used to commit tax evasion and money laundering.[10]

But Denmark faces foreign and domestic criticism for its purchase. These critics believe that Denmark is creating an incentive for thieves to obtain private information so that it can be flipped to governments all over the world for exorbitant sums of money.[11] Even further, many are uncomfortable with the idea that a government would buy information that was admittedly stolen—an issue that raises ethical implications.[12] Nonetheless, countries buying this kind of data resulting from “leaks” is not unprecedented; in 2014, Germany paid approximately $1 million to Mossack Fonseca for other information unrelated to the Panama Papers that led to prosecution of its own citizens for tax evasion.[13] France and the United Kingdom allegedly have taken similar action.[14] Kristin Lauritzen, Denmark’s tax minister, explained the decision to buy the information: “We owe it to all Danish taxpayers who faithfully pay their taxes. We must take the necessary measures in order to catch tax evaders who hide fortunes in, for instance, Panama. Therefore, we agreed that it is wise to buy the material.”[15]

Ultimately, this purchase shows that nations aren’t willing to let a blatant disregard for tax laws go unpunished doctissimo le viagra. As other countries are undoubtedly wrestling with the decision to buy information on their own citizens, they will be aided by Denmark taking the first plunge.
















Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *