UK: The Aftermath Of The Panama Papers

Last Updated: 9 November 2016
Article by Cindy Dorrington

After global media organisations published the leaked Panama Papers from law firm Mossack Fonseca revealing how corporates and some of the world's wealthy and powerful used offshore companies to hide their assets, the Government has gone into overdrive by trying to bring in new powers and laws to stop tax evasion and money laundering. The new powers and legislation, some may say, are a knee jerk reaction to the leak and the result of the pressure David Cameron has faced being part of the fiasco.

Practically, what does this mean for companies and wealthy individuals?

1. Register of Beneficial Ownership

From June 2016 all UK incorporated companies will have to reveal their ultimate beneficial ownership under David Cameron's new plans for a register of beneficial ownership.

2. Increase in Tax Evasion or Tax Avoidance Investigations by Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs

For those companies and individuals who have made use of offshore companies and may now be in danger of being exposed as tax avoiders or evaders, the solution may be to make complete and accurate disclosure to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC), before HMRC become aware of any tax irregularity. Obviously, the starting point is to instruct a tax advisor or a lawyer to advise on whether what was done amounted to avoidance or evasion. If the company or individual could potentially be involved in tax fraud then it may be advisable to contact HMRC in order to try to invoke HMRC to investigate, using the Code of Practice (COP9) investigation of fraud procedure.

If COP 9 is invoked, and as long as the company or individual co-operates fully with HMRC by giving complete and accurate disclosure, they will be allowed to make use of the Contractual Disclosure Facility and HMRC in exchange will not pursue a criminal investigation. Full co-operation will also ensure the subject of the investigation receives the greatest possible reduction in any penalties due.

3. Potential New Corporate Offence of Failing to Prevent Money Laundering

On the 11 April 2016, David Cameron announced that the UK Government 'will legislate this year to hold companies who fail to stop their employees facilitating tax evasion criminally liable'. This announcement follows from the proposals consulted on by HMRC at the end of 2015 in its paper, 'Tackling offshore tax evasion: a new corporate criminal offence of failure to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion' and the pressure placed on the Government after the release of the Panama Papers.

Draft Legislation for this new offence which is included in the Government's response to the above consultation paper, indicated that the new offence will likely resemble the Bribery Act Offence of failure to prevent bribery. However, corporates will have to put in place 'reasonable procedures' to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion rather than 'adequate procedures' under the Bribery Act.

In practice what does this mean for companies? It means companies will have to implement new policies and procedures to ensure that on a principles based approach 'reasonable procedures' have been adopted to prevent tax evasion.

The new offence will be extensive as it will include criminal facilitation of tax evasion carried out by associated persons, which could include an employee, agent or indeed anyone who provides services, for or on behalf of, the company.

4. Further New Legislation and Powers

Yesterday, Teresa May announced a raft of new powers to combat suspected money laundering following the consultation document published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which said: "Property can provide a convenient vehicle for hiding the proceeds of crime". The new legislation and powers include:

  • A new offence of 'illicit enrichment' for cases where a public official's assets have increased significantly without satisfactory explanation.
  • Giving the Court the power to impose 'unexplained wealth orders' (UWO) and the power to institute forfeiture proceedings if the subject of a UWO cannot explain their wealth to the appropriate standard.
  • A new administrative power to designate an entity as being of money laundering concern and require banks, law and accountancy firms to take special measures when dealing with them.

The proposal will aim to make better use of Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) usually filed by banks or other regulated businesses and used as an important tool by UK law enforcement to identify corrupt assets. Anyone assisting with a transaction that they know or suspect may amount to money laundering is obliged to file a SAR.


In practice, the above new laws and powers will mean that in the future, companies and individuals will need to be more transparent about ownership of their assets and the setting up of offshore vehicles to disguise true beneficial ownership.

For those companies and individuals who have made use of offshore accounts and may now be in danger of being exposed as tax avoiders or evaders, they should instruct advisors to consider their liability and contact HMRC before HMRC contact them.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.