Panama Papers: Bulgaria Tax Authorities Demand InformationFinance | April 5, 2016, Tuesday // 07:53| views
The word Panama and a miniature flag of Panama pictured on a mailbox of a residential building in Kaufbeueren, Germany, April 04, 2016. EPA/BGNES
Bulgaria's revenue agency has filed a formal request to receive information about Bulgarians whose names are involved in Panama Papers, the leak of some 11.5 million documents revealing their offshore financial dealings.
The National Revenue Agency (NRA) has submitted its request to daily 24 Chasa, which is the only Bulgarian partner to US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the organization that published on Sunday its findings based on documents that leaked out of Panama-based firm Mossack Fonseca.
At least 50 companies, 16 company owners and 78 shareholders from across Bulgaria have been linked to registrations in offshore jurisdictions around the world, according to Sofia-based news daily newspaper 24 Chasa – the ICIJ's only reporting partner from Bulgaria.
Another 100 people were directors, agents, lawyers or liquidators; some of them were foreign nationals residing in Bulgaria or having Bulgarian passports.
However, no names of Bulgarian citizens, Bulgarian residents or legal persons from the country have been disclosed to date, 24 Chasa's only suggestion being that there are no Bulgarian politicians taking part in the scheme.
On Monday evening the NRA said it was ready to provide assistance to journalists in analyzing and processing the information.
However, Alekseniya Dimitrova, the Bulgarian freelance journalist working on the investigation with ICIJ, who had offered the information to her former employer 24 Chasa, told the Bulgarian National Television she was not authorized to had any documents whatsoever.
The NRA argues it needs the information to serve "public interest" and the need to investigate any possible financial wrongdoing and tax evasion.
Even though it is not a crime in itself to set up offshore companies, the move might be part of efforts to avoid paying taxes.
In the case of Russian and Chinese officials and entrepreneurs mentioned in the Panama Papers, it is also a blow to the effort recently announced by the two countries' leadership to crack down on capital flight and tax evasion.