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Tuesday’s Papers: Police respond to tax haven leaks; immigrant banking problems; and more Finns dying abroad

Finland’s tax authorities and police are now better equipped to sanction people involved in tax avoidance, says a Helsingin Sanomat report on the fallout from this week’s Panama tax haven revelations. Elsewhere, how to fix the problem that you can’t get a job without a bank account, but can’t open an account without a job? And new statistics show that more Finns are dying overseas than at any time in the last four years.

Daily newspapers.
Image: E.D.Hawkins / Yle

The fallout from the leak of millions of documents from a Panamanian law firm continues on Tuesday, following Yle’s revelations that hundreds of Finnish individuals, banks and businesses have used the company to try and hide money from the taxman using secret offshore-registered companies.

Helsingin Sanomat leads with the story that Finland’s tax authorities and police are now looking to get their hands on the data, and say they’re confident that they will be able to access the leaked data through sharing arrangements with other countries. Media organisations do not as a rule hand over material to the police or authorities without a court order forcing them to do so.

The paper reports that this time round, prosecuting individuals and businesses who are illegally avoiding tax should be easier than ever. The Finnish tax administration tells HS that their threshold for reporting potentially illegal tax avoidance to the police is now lower than it was in the past. And a recent judgement by the Administrative Court means that authorities can now use leaked documents as evidence in an investigation, something that was not previously the case. 

Whereas in the past, the law made it difficult for both tax officials and the police to investigate and sanction the same individual or business, now the two organisations are able to work much more effectively together, a spokesman for the National Bureau of Investigation says.

A different international finance problem

Turku’s Turun Sanomat carries among its lead stories a look at a problem that has long dogged new arrivals to Finland, and which is now also faced by the latest crop of refugees: getting a job is hard if you don’t have a bank account, yet most Finnish banks won’t give you an account if you don’t have a job.

For asylum seekers, there’s an extra problem, explains the paper: passports must be handed over to the immigration authorities along with an asylum application, making opening a bank account in Finland impossible. And while the Immigration Service has called for some flexibility from the country’s big employers, they are also looking into ways around the catch-22 situation, TS says. One possibility being explored is to extend the system of payment cards through which asylum seekers in the capital now receive their monthly allowance.

Meanwhile, the wait for a solution continues for refugees looking for work. Out of 600 asylum seekers in Turku, only ten are in some sort of employment, Turun Sanomat says.

Overseas deaths hit four-year high

Finns are dying abroad in record numbers, according to a story in Iltalehti this morning. Following the deaths in Thailand and Cambodia of two Finnish citizens - aged 19 and 23 - on the same day last week, the paper has found a large jump in the the number of Finnish people who have died while overseas over the last four years. In 2011, 342 Finns died abroad, while last year the figure had increased to 520.

The largest incidences are, according to a Foreign Ministry source, still due to illness and accidents, with many of the deaths being recorded in Spain and Thailand, two favoured retirement destinations. Estonia also features highly in the list. The article warns of large costs faced by grieving relatives if repatriation costs are not covered by insurance, as the Foreign Ministry does not pay to have a person transported to Finland if they die abroad.

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