Three Portuguese MEPs take part in Panama Papers inquiry

Three Portuguese MEPs – one of them the country’s often outspoken campaigner for human rights and transparency Ana Gomes – are to sit on the commission set up to investigate alleged frauds exposed by the Panama Papers.

Diário de Notícias/Lusa describe the probe as looking into “alleged transgressions from EU rules on money laundering and tax evasion”.

Along with Gomes (PS), Nuno Melo (CDS-PP) and José Manuel Fernandes (PSD) will be joining 62 other MEPs who now have the timescale of a year to come up with their report.

Says DN, the brief is also to check for “bad administration”, both by the European Commission and/ or member states.

Gomes – a fierce critic of the last government’s Golden Visa programme, for the reason that she felt it opened Europe’s doors to “corruption and criminality” – comes to the commission due to her connections with the European Parliament’s body on Civil liberties, Justice and Internal Affairs, as well as through other work, including her back-seat influence on the European Directive against money-laundering approved by the European Parliament just over a year ago.

Melo too is involved with the Civil Liberties commission and has been involved in a recent European report on corruption – while Fernandes comes to the inquiry with detailed knowledge of the Juncker Plan (the European Fund for Strategic Investments).

The Panama Papers is the name given to more than 11.5 million documents leaked from law firm Mossack Fonseca, operating out of the tax haven.

A consortium of journalists – including staff members from Expresso and TVI – published the documents earlier this year, saying they revealed a world-wide web of money laundering, tax avoidance and evasion.

As Wikipedia explains, the “leaked documents illustrate how wealthy individuals and public officials are able to keep personal financial information private.

“While offshore business entities are often not illegal, reporters found that some of the Mossack Fonseca shell corporations were used for illegal purposes, including fraud, kleptocracy, tax evasion and evading international sanctions”.

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