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France to reinstate Panama on list of tax havens

Eric Feferberg / AFP | French Finance Minister Michel Sapin speaks during a session at the French National Assembly in Paris, on March 30, 2016.

France will reinstate Panama on its “black list” of countries that do not cooperate in efforts to track down tax dodgers, Finance Minister Michel Sapin said Tuesday in the wake of the Panama Papers revelations.

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"France has decided to put Panama back on the list of uncooperative countries, with all the consequences that will have for those who have transactions" with the central American state, Sapin told parliament.

Panama "led us to believe that it could respect major international principles," Sapin said. "That's how it managed to avoid being on the blacklist of tax havens."

France removed Panama from the list of Uncooperative States and Territories (ETNC) in 2012 after the two countries reached a bilateral accord on fighting tax evasion.

The Panama Papers, a trove of around 11.5 million documents leaked from a Panamanian law firm that specialised in setting up offshore companies, have caused shockwaves around the world with heads of states, business people and celebrities among those implicated.

French financial prosecutors said on Monday they were opening a preliminary legal investigation into aggravated tax fraud and money laundering based on the revelations contained in the leaked documents.

"There are already today prosecutions against a number of people who have already been identified in the wake of these revelations,” Sapîn said Tuesday.

“Anyone else who comes to our knowledge will be pursued through legal channels, because tax fraud is intolerable.”

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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