At least 21 Thais named amongst offshore account holders in Panama Papers scandal

Mixed in amongst the names of international politicians, celebrities and entrepreneurs, the names of 21 wealthy Thai nationals, linked to over 900 Thai companies, were also included in the leaked list of people who allegedly used a Panama-based law firm to create shell companies often used to hide money.

In response to this information, which was made public via the Panama Papers, Thailand’s Anti Money Laundering Office (AMLO) vows to coordinate with anti-money laundering organizations in other countries regarding information about named Thai nationals to determine whether or not they were involved in illegal monetary practices.

The Panama Papers story broke around the world over the weekend, but a cache of international journalists had been working on the story in secret for more than a year, sorting through 11.5 million documents that were delivered to two reporters at German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung by an anonymous source.

According to the Bangkok Post, the Panama Papers may actually include more the names of more than 780 people living in Thailand. Among the most well-known names are allegedly the CEOs of Bangkok Land and Phatra Finance.

The documents in the leak dated as far back as 1977 and came from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, a firm that creates offshore shell companies.

Offshore shell companies themselves are not illegal, it is when they are used to hide money for tax evasion purposes or money gotten through illegal means that dealings go south of the law. Some countries, such as the United States, forbid citizens from holding any offshore accounts.

The release of the Panama Papers has set off tax evasion probes around the globe.

Many high-level people were named in the papers, including many working in politics. Some of the names were of associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, family members of Chinese leader Xi Jinping and footballer Lionel Messi. The Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, was named in the papers and has already resigned.

Justice minister General Phaiboon Koomchaya was quick to point out that being named in the leak does not mean a person or business has committed a crime. Those named will have their tax records checked and compared against their business ledgers for the last five years.

AMLO advisor Pol. Col. Sihanart Prayoonrat promised that any further information they get will be shared at a press conference tomorrow, according to Thai PBS.

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CITY: BANGKOK

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