MP calls for probe on Pandora Papers tax avoidance
By Nicolas Chung, Free Malaysia Today (11 October 2021) KUALA LUMPUR: An opposition MP has called for investigations into details of tax avoidance revealed in the Pandora Papers leak because government revenue is reduced even if tax avoidance is not a crime. Wong Chen (PH-Subang) had asked finance minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz if a task force would be formed as the government needed to look for ways to boost revenue. “As the minister knows, tax avoidance is not a crime, but tax avoidance also reduces the income of a nation. So, can a task force be formed with LHDN (the Inland Revenue Board)?” he said.
Tengku Zafrul said LHDN received information on foreign accounts from tax authorities abroad from time to time through the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) programme.
Malaysia is among 74 countries participating in the AEOI, along with Singapore and the British Virgin Islands (BVI), he added. “We exchange information on taxes under this agreement, while the financial information obtained includes details on all accounts, including custodial and investment accounts.
“The relevant information can also be obtained on request if there is a basis … such as for investigations.
“Since the AEOI started in 2018, more than 4,000 cases have been resolved by LHDN involving nearly RM350 million in settlements,” he told the Dewan Rakyat. He added that the special voluntary disclosure programme introduced by the Pakatan Harapan government had led to more than 200,000 taxpayers in Malaysia and abroad repaying LHDN.
He urged members of the public and even MPs with information on individuals or entities involved in money laundering or tax evasion to report the matter to the authorities for them to act accordingly.
Tengku Zafrul added that Bank Negara Malaysia was ready to work with enforcement authorities to probe the information leak, while maintaining that these agencies were always monitoring for suspicious activities involving offshore accounts.