World News – UA – Westpac, Mint, hundreds of Australians trapped in global tax evasion investigation


Westpac Banking Corporation, the Perth Mint and hundreds of Australian citizens have been implicated in a global tax evasion investigation at a Puerto Rican bank co-owned by a flamboyant American millionaire

Euro Pacific Bank, run by prominent US financier and business commentator Peter Schiff, has been banned as a « top » organized crime threat against Australia for its alleged use by Australian and international organized crime unions

International law enforcement sources have confirmed that Euro Pacific is the target of Operation Atlantis, a massive international tax investigation by the « J5 », a task force made up of tax chiefs from Australia, United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands and Canada which was put in place after the Panama Papers leak

Australia’s Deputy Tax Commissioner Will Day says around 100 Australians are under investigation and could be jailed for tax evasion after simultaneous raids around the world on January 24 in what he described as an « unprecedented » joint investigation

Designation of Euro Pacific as an Australian Priority Organization target means police suspect Euro Pacific poses a serious organized crime threat to Australia This is the most serious classification in the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission

M Schiff, who denies any wrongdoing, confirmed receiving a visit from US tax authorities working in partnership with Australian authorities on January 24

“We have responded to all kinds of inquiries,” he said. “We have kind of been caught up in everything that is going on, but there are no valid allegations against the bank I can tell you that there is no tax evasion at the bank The bank does not facilitate anything « 

But the revelations, uncovered in an investigation by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, 60 Minutes and The New York Times, will thrill the global banking world as Euro Pacific maintains relationships with major financial institutions that facilitate transactions. for its 13,000 global customers

Euro Pacific’s marketing materials list the bank’s existing or previous financial partners like Westpac and Perth Mint, owned by the Western Australian government, raising the possibility that Australian institutions facilitated the activities of criminals organized or tax evaders

Euro Pacific’s international partners include the Federal Reserve of New York, British bank NatWest, Canadian Bank of Montreal and Japanese bank Mizuho Several of these banks have also been targeted by Operation Atlantis, confirmed sources All refused to answer questions

The investigation was sparked by a major leak of the bank’s financial data which was obtained first by Dutch authorities and later by the J5 Documents suggest Euro Pacific’s Australian clients include Simon Anquetil, Australian businessman jailed for designing Plutus Payroll, the country’s biggest tax scam

Other Euro Pacific account holders include a Russian cybercriminal wanted by Australian and US authorities for carrying out the world’s largest cyber malware attack, and an Australian suspected of laundering money for a billion dollar drug trafficking union

Westpac, which is still reeling from its September $ 13 billion fine for breaking money laundering laws, was a Euro Pacific bank « correspondent » until 2018 This relationship has enabled Westpac to facilitate the Puerto Rican bank’s relations with its Australian clients

The Perth Mint has partnered with Euro Pacific to allow well-heeled bank clients to buy gold Former Federal Police financial crime expert John Chevis has warned that Westpac and the Perth Mint may have inadvertently facilitated tax evasion and money laundering by partnering with the Puerto Rican bank

The Perth Mint declined to comment on its relationship with Euro Pacific, but severed ties just weeks after The Age and Herald sent it questions Westpac declined to comment

M Day declined to name Atlantis’ target, citing its ongoing investigation and privacy laws, but confirmed that Atlantis was targeting large-scale tax evasion and money laundering Australian accountants and lawyers advising Australians were among the targets of Operation Atlantis, Mr. Day

« We were concerned about this behavior and what it was facilitating, » Mr. Day « We [the tax chiefs] feared that this was a common threat to all our countries »

« Tax crime is not victimless Tax criminals take away those revenues that support these really important functions It’s important at all times, but even more so during a pandemic »

M Schiff is Euro Pacific’s largest shareholder and marketing asset He advocates using legal loopholes to minimize taxes and has attacked terrorist and anti-money laundering regulations as being too onerous Euro Pacific Chairman is Mark Anderson, a former US bankrupt previously sued by US regulators and fined for selling questionable high-risk financial products

Euro Pacific is marketed by certain Australian attorneys and accountants as Puerto Rico offers bank secrecy, including the non-sharing of information with the ATO under an international tax treaty It is advised for many clients Euro Pacific to create bank accounts using shell companies in other tax havens, creating maze-like business structures that are difficult for police and tax authorities to dissolve

The ongoing Operation Atlantis investigation also highlights the failure of successive Australian governments to pass the laws recommended by the world’s largest financial crime task force and by a bipartisan parliamentary committee that would force Australian lawyers and accountants to report suspicious transactions to authorities

Australians are allowed to transfer money abroad, but must report their foreign assets to the ATO and pay taxes on income abroad as if the money was earned at home

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Nick McKenzie is an investigative reporter for The Age He has won nine Walkley Awards and covers politics, business, foreign affairs and defense, human rights, criminal justice system and social affairs

Peter Schiff, Westpac

World news – UA – Westpac, mint, hundreds of Australians trapped in global tax evasion investigation


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