Project Eclipse – exposing offshore tax avoidance structures

In May 2013, Australian agencies teamed up with counterparts in the United States and United Kingdom to share data revealing complex offshore structures in jurisdictions including Singapore, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, and the Cook Islands.

Project Eclipse identified more than a hundred Australians hiding their income and assets offshore, involved in tens of millions of dollars in suspected tax avoidance through the use of ‘shell companies’ overseas.

This information was found through a database acquired by the Australian, United Kingdom and United States revenue authorities. The database included more than two million documents relating to thousands of people worldwide.

The data identified the individuals who own the assets, and the accountants, lawyers and other professional advisors who represent them. These advisors were found to have designed, promoted, implemented and maintained the offshore structures on behalf of others, so identifying them was a major win in the international fight against tax crime.

This co-ordinated international approach is demonstrating that revenue authorities are effectively sharing information and intelligence and have significantly strengthened their combined capacities to detect international tax avoidance and evasion.

This increased collaboration sends a clear message that we are serious about targeting those that abuse offshore secrecy arrangements, and that it is only a matter of time before their non-compliance is identified and acted on.

Last modified: 03 Aug 2015QC 41322