April 8, 2016 / 5:47 PM / 3 years ago

Hollande urges Panama to respond to tax enquiries

French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech after a visit at the construction site of a new housing development in Romainville, near Paris, France, April 8, 2016. REUTERS/Ian Langsdon/Pool

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande urged Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela on Friday to help French tax authorities with their enquiries following the Panama Papers leaks, his press office said.

Hollande confirmed that France had asked for a meeting of experts from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) next week to work on “a coordinated action by tax administrations” following the revelations.

More than 11.5 million documents were leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca and have caused public outrage over how the world’s rich and powerful are able to conceal their wealth and avoid taxes.

The French government put Panama back on its blacklist of uncooperative tax jurisdictions on Friday, adding that it had said it would pay particular attention to Panama’s willingness to cooperate when it last updated the list on Dec. 21.

The French Finance Ministry said in a statement Panama was still failing to pass on necessary information such as the names of beneficiaries and the accounts of companies registered there.

Hollande explained to Varela the reasons for the decision, his press office said. Panama said earlier this week it could retaliate and would not be “a scapegoat”.

“The president strongly encouraged Panama to respond to the demands for information from the French tax authorities,” Hollande’s press office said.

Reporting by James Regan; Editing by Andrew Roche

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