NEW YORK – Some 13 foreign banks operating in New York, including Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Commerzbank and ABN Amro, have been ordered by the New York Department of Financial Services to turn over details of their dealings with Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, as authorities continue to investigate revelations from the so-called Panama Papers document leak.
The banks have been given ten days to respond, and were asked to provide communications, phone logs and records of transactions between their New York branches and employees or agents of Mossack Fonseca, as well as any subsequent communication with shell companies formed as part of these transactions.
According to Bloomberg, the regulator has also asked banks to identify any New York-based personnel who may have held positions at the shell companies.
Meanwhile, the second ranking Democrat on the US House of Representatives Financial Services committee, Carolyn Maloney, also referred to the Panama Papers on Wednesday to request hearings on a bill introduced earlier this year aimed at stopping anonymous company ownership.
Maloney’s bill, HR 4450 — “The Incorporation Transparency and Law Enforcement Assistance Act”, aims to “ensure that persons who form corporations or limited liability companies in the United States disclose the beneficial owners of those corporations or limited liability companies, in order to prevent wrongdoers from exploiting United States corporations and limited liability companies for criminal gain, to assist law enforcement in detecting, preventing, and punishing terrorism, money laundering, and other misconduct involving United States corporations and limited liability companies, and for other purposes”.
Earlier in April, Senators Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren asked the US Treasury to investigate any US companies or US-linked companies that appeared in the Panama Papers.
“We will be closely monitoring the situation along with our international tax administration partners as we determine what steps to take to ensure compliance with US tax laws and meet our shared global interests,” the IRS said in a statement.
In Britain, offshore companies buying UK property could be forced to reveal their ultimate owners under plans to crack down on tax evasion and money laundering being considered by the government, prompted by the Panama Papers’ disclosures.
It could also require foreign companies bidding for public sector contracts to do the same.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who was himself implicated in the Panama Papers, plans to force all UK companies to reveal their ultimate owners in a new register of beneficial ownership from June, so the latest proposals would bring foreign owners of British property into line with those rules.