On Colombia the investigation on tax havens called the Pandora Papers has shown a paradox: the person in charge of investigating tax evaders in the country appears on the list. This is Lisandro Manuel Junco Riveira, director of the National Tax and Customs Directorate (DIAN), whom several opposition congressmen have demanded his resignation.
Junco together with his wife in 2016 the company Cyber Security System Company in the United States and that same year it would have paid $ 940 to SFM Corporate Services, with an office in Dubai, according to invoices obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) that gave rise to the Pandora Papers, whose chapter in Colombia was reviewed by the newspaper El Espectador and the journalistic platform CONNECTAS.
According to those invoices, Cyber Security System Company would have paid for “a bank account in Cyprus” and a “virtual office” in London.
Junco did not acknowledge the existence of the invoices or any link with SFM and assured, through a statement, that its assets are in the United States, as shown in the income statement in Colombia which he made public, and not in Cyprus or England.
“Those logos (of SFM), according to what I was able to locate in the internet investigations, do not even correspond to the signatures, nor do the invoices have my full name as it is. They are bills that I don’t know where El Espectador gets them from, but I’m sure our justice will investigate in order to rectify this information “he said in a video statement released by the DIAN on Sunday.
Appearing on the list of people who use tax havens has cost politically Junco and also the government of the president Ivan Duque, who inaugurated him in March of this year as director of the DIAN.
Opposition Senator Antonio Sanguino told The Associated Press that President Duque should demand the resignation of Junco or he voluntarily withdraws while the investigations progress.
“There is an obvious conflict of interest problem: it cannot be that who should make sure that these capitals do not evade taxes to Colombia and investigate those complaints that we are hearing is the director of the DIAN, which at the same time appears compromised in the Pandora Papers”, indicated Sanguino.
Other opposition congressmen have also requested the resignation of the official, such as senators Iván Cepeda, Jorge Enrique Robledo – presidential candidate – and Representative David Racero, who also announced that he will summon the director of the DIAN.
Several rulers from around the world, including the presidents of Chile, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic, are listed in the “Pandora Papers”, an international journalistic investigation published on Sunday that reveals the concealment of assets in tax havens. (Source: AFP)
“I have heard the news all day and they will continue to make a thousand excuses to look good, but the director of the DIAN he has to resign and be investigated, what he is doing is an act of corruption ”, John Jairo Collazos, a 39-year-old taxi driver in Bucaramanga, in the northeast of the country, told the Globe Live Media.
Duque ruled on the Pandora Papers without referring directly to the cases of the DIAN director, its Minister of Transportation and the vice president. “Having accounts abroad is not a crime. What I do want to make clear is that everyone who has assets abroad, whoever they are, must be declared before the National Tax and Customs Directorate (DIAN) “he said Monday during an event marking 10 years of the Housing Ministry.
The president also clarified that in Colombia There is a “tax normalization” rule that allows to correct the situation of those who have omitted assets or nonexistent liabilities in their tax return.
Read Also : President of the Dominican Republic, linked to Panamanian companies in the Pandora Papers
The company Cyber Security System was incorporated in Delaware, according to public records held by Pandora Papers. However, it would have been canceled in June 2021 for “non-payment of taxes.” Junco -expert in fighting tax evaders- assured that he has paid the taxes in full. What’s more, said that Cyber Security System is currently based in Florida, United States, and not in Delaware and to prove it, he posted on Twitter the company’s certificate and tax identification number with the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
Isidro Hernández, an economist and professor at the Universidad del Externado, told the Globe Live Media that although the documents and explanations given by the director of the DIAN indicate that the company is not in a tax haven, this should be determined in a deeper analysis.
“Now it would be necessary to analyze if this company, being in a legal place, is not doing triangulations, that is, using its creation in the United States to carry out operations with other countries that may be in tax havens”, Hernández assured. “We do not know if the entity he directs is auditing its director”added.
In the Pandora Papers Two other active officials are also referenced, the vice president and chancellor of Colombia, Marta Lucia Ramirez, and the Minister of Transport, Angela Maria Orozco, who fought back on Monday.
Ramirez spoke in a statement on Monday about his appearance in the Pandora Papers ensuring that since 2012 neither she nor her husband and daughter have a stake in Global Securities Management Corporation, created in 2005 in the British Virgin Islands and of which the Colombian Gustavo Hernández Frieri was also a shareholder, convicted in the United States of money laundering from the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA, a crime of which he pleaded guilty in 2019 and for which he was convicted in May 2021.
The Minister of Transportation also appears as a shareholder of Global Securities Management and defended herself saying that she kept her shares from 2005 to 2011 and that the financial operations were supervised and declared before the Colombian authorities.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.
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