MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Global commodity miner and trader Glencore <GLEN.L> on Wednesday lost its case to stop Australian tax authorities using business information that was leaked as part of the so-called Paradise Papers.
Glencore had argued that information revealed by the Paradise Papers – a leaked dossier that included information on clients of the Appleby law firm in Bermuda – should not be available to tax authorities as the information had been stolen.
But Australia’s high court found that the Australian Tax Office (ATO) was entitled to access the documents as they were in the public domain, adding that lawyer-client privilege did not apply in this case.
The decision means the ATO can continue to use the Paradise Papers and other similar data leaks, ATO Second Commissioner Jeremy Hirschhorn said in a statement.
“Today’s decision is not just a win for the ATO; it’s a win for the Australian community who rightly expect the ATO to use all information available to ensure large corporations … are paying the right amount of tax,” he said.
The ruling potentially opens the door for Glencore to receive a backdated tax bill, given the ATO has handed peers BHP <BHP.AX> <BHPB.L> and Rio Tinto <RIO.L> <RIO.AX> large tax notices in recent years after reviewing their tax practices, specifically those around valuing commodities in lower tax jurisdictions.
“Glencore respects today’s High Court decision,” a company spokesman told Reuters.
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Joseph Radford)