Highlight 11 September 2017

Krogerus advises Yle on the dispute regarding the Finnish Tax Administration's request to access the Panama Papers

Krogerus advised Finland's national public service broadcasting company Yleisradio Oy (Yle) against the Finnish Tax Administration on the dispute of handing over the so called Panama Papers.

The Finnish Tax Administration had requested a full surrender of and access to the documents. The request was rejected by the Administrative Court as against the Finnish Constitution, the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU and the European Convention of Human Rights. Also, the court concluded that surrendering the requested material could have endangered the anonymity of the information source underlying the Panama Papers.

The Panama Papers are some 11.5 million leaked documents that detail financial and attorney–client information for more than 200,000 offshore entities. The documents contain personal financial information about individuals and public officials that had previously been kept private.

The documents were leaked in 2015 by an anonymous source and handed over to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The Süddeutsche Zeitung decided to analyse the data in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), through which two journalists from Yleisradio were given access to the documents.

The matter was in essence about weighing of the freedom of speech and the protection of journalistic source as constitutional rights against the specific obligation to surrender third party information upon a request of the Tax Administration for the purposes of tax assessment.

The case contains critical elements not previously scrutinised in the Finnish court praxis, and accordingly the case has a very significant precedential relevance.

The Krogerus team was led by counsel Jouni Weckström. He was mainly assisted by associates Tommi Lind and Lars-Johan Ahlqvist.

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