UPDATE 1-Canada seeks 'Panama Papers' data, major bank defends practices

Mon Apr 4, 2016 4:19pm EDT
 
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(Releads with government request, adds details, opposition reaction; figures in Canadian dollars unless otherwise stated)

By David Ljunggren and Matt Scuffham

OTTAWA/TORONTO, April 4 (Reuters) - Canada on Monday sought a copy of the "Panama Papers" revelations about potential tax evasion while a big Canadian bank defended its practices after documents allegedly showed it had used the services of the firm at the heart of the case.

Governments across the world began investigating possible wrongdoing by the rich and powerful after a huge leak of documents from a Panamanian law firm revealed the financial arrangements of global politicians and other figures.

Canada is closely watching the cases of citizens found to have set up offshore companies in Panama and elsewhere and will refer cases to prosecutors if necessary, said a spokeswoman for National Revenue Minister Diane Lebouthillier.

"The Minister of National Revenue has instructed Canada Revenue Agency officials to obtain the list of data leaked through the Panama Papers," said Chloe Luciani-Girouard.

Royal Bank of Canada said it had controls in place to prevent illegal activities after documents allegedly showed it had regularly used the services of Mossack Fonseca, the Panama-based firm.

RBC, Canada's biggest bank, and its subsidiaries were associated with 378 shell companies registered in the Mossack Fonseca data, the Toronto Star newspaper reported.

RBC said that it worked within the legal and regulatory framework of every country in which it operates and had an extensive due diligence process to understand what its clients' intentions were.   Continued...