After Panama Papers, German Minister Plans New Rules Against Offshore Firms

Transparency register would join effort to fight tax evasion and terrorism financing, justice minister says.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas makes a speech at a session of the German lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, January 13, 2016.

REUTERS -- Germany plans to introduce a new national transparency register to make offshore companies disclose their owners' identity, as part of the fight against tax evasion and the financing of terrorism, German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said on Tuesday. 

The leak of the "Panama Papers" – four decades worth of documents from a Panamanian law firm that set up offshore companies – has triggered renewed calls for tougher action against tax abuse. 

"We must create transparency. The systematic cover-up must end. Shell companies, which still have an anonymous beneficial owner, must no longer be allowed," said Maas, saying he planned to expand Germany's money laundering law. 

He also said regarding German banks, that none should believe that they can escape national law and authorities tasked with tracking people down. 

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has said the leak would increase the pressure to tackle tax rule abuse and that additional measures were needed.