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Iceland probes 108 named in Panama Papers

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REYKJAVIK: Icelandic authorities said on Wednesday that 108 taxpayers whose names were in the “Panama Papers” had been targeted by an investigation for tax evasion.

Directorate of Tax Investigations chief, Bryndis Kristjansdottir, said that of those, 31 had been discovered due to the documents which the Icelandic authorities bought from an anonymous source.

Causing a political earthquake in Iceland, the Panama Papers, released in April, fuelled the resignation of Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and prompted a snap vote in October.

The Nordic island nation was one of the countries most shaken by the journalistic investigation, which revealed the scope of tax havens from customer files of the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.

According to the documents, around 600 Icelanders had holdings in tax havens.

“If we look at all the cases that have been under investigation, not taking into account if the investigation was completed, ongoing, or started before or after the leaked Panama Papers, the cases connected to those documents are a total of 108,” Kristjansdottir said.

“I expect that more cases will be investigated, since there is reason to believe that laws have been broken in more instances,” Kristjansdottir added, without disclosing the results of the investigations, which remain confidential.

Tax avoidance and evasion are well established traditions in Iceland, although the country has made progress since the intervention of the International Monetary Fund to bail out the economy in 2008.

According to economists Johannes Karlsson and Thorolfur Matthiasson, they were equivalent to 15 to 25 percent of tax revenues in the eight years preceding the 2008 financial crisis, or 7 to 11 percent of the GDP.

The leader of the Left-Green Movement Katrin Jakobsdottir, who could become Prime Minister if she succeeds in forming a government, estimates that tax evasion represents one-sixth of the state budget.

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