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Panama 'tax haven' for wealthy Germans

The Local · 20 Mar 2013, 10:48

Published: 20 Mar 2013 10:48 GMT+01:00

Panama has long been a relatively low-profile tax haven where “more than 50 percent of cross-border investment is not taxed,” tax expert Markus Meinzer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Wednesday.

The paper obtained the information from the country's national records after a searchable database was published by UK-based hacker on his blog.

The records apparently contained data on a number of Germany's richest companies and individuals – including some with billions of euros in assets – that were listed as directors or owners of companies registered in Panama.

Meinzer said that he could see no legitimate reason why someone who lived and worked in Germany would have an offshore company in Panama. Low taxation, he said, had led to shady goings-on in the country's business world.

Both Porsche and the mega-rich Piëch family - involved with the leadership of the Volkswagen group - flatly denied investing in Panama for tax reasons.

Publishers Hubert Burda and one of Germany's richest women Silvia Quant told the paper they knew nothing about their Panamanian financial connections uncovered by the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

Story continues below…

Meinzer, from the Tax Justice Network organisation, said he believed that an influx of the super rich registering in countries like Panama can have serious consequences for a nation's infrastructure due to debts accrued from a lack of tax revenue and increased taxes on average earners.

The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

12:35 March 20, 2013 by sonriete
Meinzer is certainly entitled to his opinion but it is quite a breathtaking statement that there is no legitimate reason for someone living and working in Germany to do business in Panama. Is there any legitimate reason for Volkswagen to be building seven new plants in China? Low wages and taxes are the only reason to do that as well. Competition over taxes and regulations is a core concept in capitalism whether we like it or not.
15:21 March 20, 2013 by RajeshG
What's happening in another so called Tax Haven Cyrpus should forewarn these people running away from paying their share of taxes - as to the safety of their funds.
16:02 March 20, 2013 by smart2012
Cyprus was the Panama of 10 years ago... But now no one in Germany say that... All blame Cyprus
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