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    Germany to Open Business Transparency Register After #PanamaPapers Leaks

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    The German government wants to set up a national transparency register requiring offshore companies to disclose their beneficial owners, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said Tuesday after allegations of global offshore dealings implicating German banks and citizens among others.

    BERLIN (Sputnik) – On Sunday, the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung exposed the alleged involvement of multiple former and current world leaders in offshore schemes by publishing materials it claims came from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama firm that specializes in selling offshore companies.

    "We cannot allow that one part of society works hard, adheres to the rules and pays taxes while another part of society cheats… We need to ban offshore letterbox companies and foundations worldwide whose beneficial owners remain anonymous," Maas said in a joint interview with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and the NDR and WDR broadcasters.

    At least 28 German banks, including Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, have been uncovered allegedly employing Mossack Fonseca’s services. The banks, including Bayerische Landesbank (BayernLB) and Dresdner Bank, reportedly created or managed around 1,200 offshore companies owned by around 1,000 German citizens.

    Although owning an offshore company is not illegal and may be done for legitimate reasons, including safety and avoiding abuse, the authors of the so-called Panama Papers claim to shed light on the scale of global tax havens.

    German media reported of inspections launched by the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) on Tuesday over German banks’ possible links with companies involved in incorporating offshore companies in tax haven countries.

    Mossack Fonseca has refused to verify the information contained in the leaks but accused reporters of gaining unauthorized access to its proprietary documents. It warned that using unlawfully-obtained data was a crime that it would not hesitate to pursue through the courts.

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    Panama papers, Mossack Fonseca & Co, Heiko Maas, Germany
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