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Long Island News

$180 Million Bank Fine Is First Fallout From Panama Papers

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Banking regulators in New York have issued the first fines stemming from the leaked Panama Papers. Mega Bank of Taiwan will have to pay $180 million for ignoring possible money laundering. This is expected to be the first of many penalties related to the discovery of widespread tax avoidance.

The leaked documents showed how one law firm allegedly helped thousands of wealthy clients cheat on their taxes using shell companies. Federal prosecutors are looking for criminal wrongdoing on the part of the lawyers who set up the accounts, but loopholes and attorney-client privilege make that difficult.

Mark Hays tracks corporate wrongdoing for the nonprofit, Global Witness. He says New York's strategy is simpler. It goes after the bankers.

"This is more than looking at white collar crime and regulating money. It's about effective policing and law enforcement really getting to the heart of what drives some of this criminal activity."

New York has demanded documents from 13 banks overall. Meanwhile, UK officials said they will go after the accounting firms that may have looked the other way while compiling annual financial statements.