Cook Islands is mentioned several times in the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) database which contains information on almost 320,000 offshore entities that are part of the Panama Papers and the Offshore Leaks investigations.
Cook Islands Revenue Management Division senior tax advisor Philip Eyre said they would investigate the taxpayers who appear in the Panama Papers, to ensure they had complied with taxation laws.
He said those found guilty of fraud could face penalty tax of up to three times of the amount of tax that had not been declared.
“Like all tax administrations, one of Revenue Management’s goals is to achieve voluntary compliance from all taxpayers, which includes the honest disclosure of income from overseas sources,” Eyre said.
“To that end, we will be investigating all taxpayers who appear in the papers to see if compliance has been achieved.”
Eyre said their investigation would identify any potential income from overseas and the extent to which it was taxable in the Cook Islands in the hands of Cook Islands tax residents.
“The Cook Islands complies with international standards on taxation and works hard to provide a transparent taxation system.
“To that end, the government has committed the country to the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) in 2018.
“AEOI requires that data be supplied both in and out of the Cook Islands to ensure that income from foreign sources is being correctly disclosed and declared.
“This is the future of taxation transparency for most if not all countries of the world.”
In a disclaimer, the ICIJ, which released the leaked data, said: “We do not intend to suggest or imply that any persons, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly.”
The “Panama Papers” is a cache of 11.5 million electronic files containing information on companies and individuals linked to large international law firm Mossack Fonseca, a specialist in offshore companies formed in Panama and other countries.
Several international names including heads of states, sporting personalities and entertainment stars have been linked to the Panama Papers leak.