Panama papers: Indonesia combs files for dodgers

An Indonesian boy walking along a wall by a riverbank opposite the city centre in Jakarta on March 1, 2016. Source: Getty Images

In a country where fewer than a million of the 250 million-strong population actually pay tax, Indonesia is examining the Panama Papers for information.

Indonesian authorities are sifting through the "gigantic" amount of information in the "Panama Papers", which they hope will add urgency to a tax amnesty bill aimed at stopping locals shirking the system.

A special unit at the Indonesian Centre for Tax Analysis is examining the information contained in the leaked documents and comparing it with other data they have received to see what does and does not match up.

Governments across the world are investigating the 11.5 million leaked documents that date back four decades and were initially given to a German newspaper, which shared the data with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and 100 major media outlets.

More than 214,000 offshore entities connected to people in more than 200 countries are included in the data, along with information about how banks helped create 15,000 companies in tax havens.

The task is huge and unveils a problem they are already well aware of, said Mekar Satria Utama, spokesman for Indonesia's Tax Directorate General Office.

"The information in the Panama Papers is not something new either because the tax office has been monitoring it for a long time and acknowledges that there are so many companies and individuals (in Indonesia) who are using offshore corporations," he told AAP on Wednesday.

In a bid to combat this, the government has introduced a tax amnesty bill to parliament, which is aimed at clawing back tax in a country where fewer than a million of the 250 million-strong population actually cough up.

More than $US200 billion is estimated to have been parked overseas, in places such as neighbouring Singapore, by well-off Indonesians, effectively allowing them to evade their tax responsibilities.

The draft bill aims to pave the way for Indonesians to bring this money home without fear of prosecution and with penalties ranging from just one to three per cent of repatriated assets.

Mr Satria said he hopes the Panama Papers will add urgency to passing the tax amnesty bill and potentially help them track down wrongdoers.

"This information (in the papers) if it is really detailed, and includes the forming of companies and the names behind them, and also the scheme they are using, that will be very useful for us," he added.

"This (the papers) shows us that information openness is a must.... The information is serious. The information really has some depth and we can use it for (our) own sake."

Source AAP

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