Korean companies and individuals were found to have continued to increase their money remittance to overseas tax havens over the past few years.
According to the Bank of Korea and data from the financial investment industry, their money transfers to tax havens including countries in the Caribbean have nearly doubled since the 2008 financial crisis.
The annual figure, which stood at $212.2 billion (254.3 trillion won) in 2009, climbed to $324.2 billion in 2010, $385.7 billion in 2011 and $413.9 in 2012.
“While the figures could include remitted funds from foreigners residing in Korea or foreign companies operating here, there is no doubt that more Koreans and Korean firms are also seeking to enjoy the tax benefit by relocating their wealth,” said a financial regulatory official.
The number of individuals and enterprises tapping into the tax havens came to some 40,700 and 142,000 in 2012, compared with 27,500 and 134,000, respectively, in 2003.
Among the tax havens worldwide are Bermuda, Aruba, the Cayman Islands, Labuan in Malaysia, Dublin in Ireland, Belgium, Hong Kong and Delaware in the U.S.
While the figures are based on money remitters’ reports to tax authorities, the National Tax Service alleges that the number of cases without official notification has also increased.
Under the Park Geun-hye administration, the NTS recently widened its investigation into alleged tax evasion attempts via offshore accounts.
The nation’s three investigative agencies on financial transactions and the central bank are set to collaborate on inquiries into alleged corporate tax evaders via investment in overseas tax havens.
Officials at the Financial Supervisory Service said the regulator plans to actively exchange a variety of information on offshore investors with the NTS, the BOK and the Korea Customs Service.
This is the first time in about eight years since 2005 for the agencies to seek joint investigation into a particular issue.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org