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France investigates 560 suspected tax dodgers after Panama Papers revelations

Budget Minister Christian Eckert AFP

French tax authorities are investigating nearly 600 cases of possible fraud in the light of this year's Panama Papers revelations of offshore companies used by wealthy people across the globe to dodge their fiscal responsibilities.

France's economy ministry on Wednesday confirmed a report in Le Monde, one of the papers that broke the Panama Papers story along with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in April, that it is investigating 560 French individuals suspected of tax dodging via Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Several other countries, including Iceland and Denmark, have already announced that they have acted on the revelations.

"Audits have begun," Budget Minister Christian Eckert told the paper. "It's a matter of putting all the cases under the scanner."

724 cases already being investigated

Even before the massive leak Panama was known to France's tax inspectors as a haven for tax cheats and criminals, such as diamond, arms and drug traffickers.

They were looking into 724 cases, worth about 3.8 billion of euros repatriated and 1.2 billion euros of taxes and fines collected.

The STDR, the special service established in 2013 to track down money hidden in tax havens, has already brought in two billion euros this year, not far from its target of 2.4 billion euros for the whole year, and 6.7 billion euros since it was set up.