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Germany Urges Data on Offshore Tax Accounts to Be Surrendered

Germany’s Finance Ministry urged media in possession of information on tax havens to make the documents available, saying that it assumes they will want to help authorities investigate possible tax evaders.

German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported today that it was among international media to be leaked tax data from an anonymous source on about 130,000 people in more than 170 countries. The files comprising 2.5 million documents, which were first handed over to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, contain “hundreds” of German names, the newspaper said.

“We assume and would welcome if the relevant documents are sent to the competent tax authorities of the states now so that they can quickly start their investigations and subsequently their proceedings,” Finance Ministry spokesman Martin Kotthaus said in an e-mailed statement.

One of the biggest leaks on possible tax dodgers puts the spotlight on offshore financial centers including the Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and the Bahamas and may accelerate international efforts to clamp down on tax havens.

“The Finance Ministry has sharpened its focus on the issue of tax havens and tax-avoidance strategies in recent years,” Kotthaus said, citing accords with countries such as Singapore and efforts made within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development together with the U.S., the U.K. and France.

Fighting tax evasion is beyond the means of individual governments and requires internationally agreed rules and standards, Michael Meister, deputy caucus leader of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, said in an e-mailed statement.

“The pressure on tax havens must be further increased,” Meister said. “Chance discoveries aren’t enough.”

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