South Korea will probe ‘Panama Papers’ claim about former President Roh

(From Korea JoongAng Daily)

Regulator, tax agency say they’re investigating 195 cited individuals

The government said it will investigate allegations that the son of former president Roh Tae-woo used shell companies as tax havens, the biggest bombshell in Korea from the so-called Panama Papers revelations.

Former South Korean President Roh Tae-woo

Former South Korean President Roh Tae-woo

The Financial Supervisory Service announced Tuesday that it will start an investigation of 195 individuals including Roh Jae-heon, the eldest son of the former president, who are accused of opening companies in tax havens. On Monday, the National Tax Service said it will do its own investigation.

The Korean financial watchdog said Roh was among 195 Koreans mentioned in documents leaked from Panama’s largest law firm, Mossack Fonseca, which were the basis of articles published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The 11.5 million leaked documents reportedly describe the law firm helping wealthy clients commit various illegal acts including money laundering and tax evasion through the setting up of more than 200,000 shell companies.

According to the documents, Roh created three shell companies – One Asia International, GCI Asia and Luxes International – in the Virgin Islands on May 18, 2012.

The non-profit Korean news organization Newstapa raised the possibility that the junior Roh created the companies to hide his father’s illicit wealth, which he would inherit. It said the companies were created when the existence of a slush fund surfaced in the process of Roh Jae-heon’s divorce. The ownership of each company is complicated, Newstapa said, in an efforts to conceal its true owner. Read more

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