Update to: Pandora papers investigation moves ahead in National Assembly, Lasso says half-a-billion dollars paid in taxes
Published: Volume 6, Issue 2
According to the records of the Internal Revenue Service (SRI), there is no formal complaint about an alleged tax evasion of the current President of the Republic, Guillermo Lasso, who also pays taxes for much more than the average taxpayer.
This was stated by the director of the SRI, Marisol Andrade, before the Commission for Constitutional Guarantees and Human Rights, commissioned by the plenary session of the National Assembly to investigate what is related to the so-called Pandora Papers, which is a leak of files on assets and capital in tax havens.
For the second time, the legislative commission chaired by José Cabascango (Pachakutik) waited for Lasso’s appearance to report on the Pandora Papers, and his alleged involvement. The head of state ratified his decision to receive the members of the legislative commission in the Carondelet Palace, but the chairman of the table indicated that under no circumstances will there be appearances “at home.”
It is not yet officially known whether the Guarantee Commission will insist on the presence of the head of state, although the deadline to present the report on the Pandora Papers investigation expires on November 6th, according to the schedule approved by legislators.
Cabascango affirmed that the new absence of the president from the commission seriously hampers the investigation and intentionally obstructs the work of the National Assembly to exercise political control and oversight of the acts of public servants. He said that the table shows the lack of collaboration on the part of the President of the Republic.
Before the legislators investigating the case, Andrade reiterated that there is no formal complaint in the SRI that accuses President Lasso of evading taxes in Ecuador by transferring his capital to states or territories that appear on the SRI list as tax havens, or to jurisdictions with less taxation in the period from his qualification of his presidential candidacy on October 14, 2020 to the present date.
It also indicated that based on the information reported in the body that comes from the taxpayer and third parties, it has not been identified to date, by the tax administration, that the taxpayer Guillermo Lasso maintains property rights abroad, and with this, it would not be pertinent, opportune or responsible to indicate whether or not taxes were paid on that.
Regarding the payment of income tax, he indicated that the first president in 2020 paid $2.2 million in taxes; $696,000 in 2019; and, $794,000 in 2018.
Lasso has a tax pressure -which is the relationship between income and the tax paid- of 35%, compared to the average of natural persons who have income from dividends of 21%; in other words, the tax burden of the Presdient is above the average tax burden, so he has not been subjected to intensive control because he pays much more than what the common taxpayer pays.
However, the official indicated that regarding the journalistic investigation on the Pandora Papers, the corresponding teams of the tax administration are analyzing this information, which is not official, therefore, it must be contrasted with the different sources of information at the national level and after that, turn to an international source.
He specified that a few weeks ago the global forum based in Paris, a multilateral organization that leads the fight for fiscal transparency in the world, notified that the SRI passed the evaluation of the security and confidentiality standards of information, which allows access to information to more than one hundred jurisdictions.
In April 2021, Ecuador signed an information exchange agreement for tax purposes with the United States, but that process is on the way to approval by the Constitutional Court and the National Assembly.
The legal director of the SRI, Galo Maldonado, clarified to the legislators that South Dakota, in the United States, does not appear in the list of tax havens, and even when it does not appear so that it can have the tax haven treatment, compliance with two out of three conditions: low rates, absence of information exchange and that in said regime schemes of little economic essence are established. Currently, Maldonado added, there is no information exchange with the United States until the agreement is in force.
Alberto Jhayya Segovia, representing the State Comptroller’s Office, also attended the list of appearances, who indicated that on October 6th, the President of the Republic, Guillermo Lasso, requested that a special examination of his sworn statement of assets be ordered, for which he renounced bank secrecy. The exam began on October 16th and will have a 45-day delay.