Koreans wire US$5 bln to tax havens since 2008

SEOUL, July 11 (Yonhap) -- South Koreans have sent more than US$5 billion overseas, including at least three tax havens, in the last five years, a parliamentary report showed Thursday, amid ongoing government probes into possible tax evaders.

The amount of foreign currency-denominated funds transferred by individuals and businesses to tax havens abroad between 2008 and 2012 reached US$5.06 billion, or 5.78 trillion won in local currency, according to the report by the Bank of Korea (BOK) submitted to parliament.

The report is based on the BOK's data on remittances by 109 individuals and 796 businesses who transferred money worth $1,000 or more at each transaction in the past five years, the report said.

A lawmaker who requested the BOK for such data called on regulatory authorities to step up efforts in keeping closer tabs on the movement of funds based in tax havens, since they may be involved in possible tax-dodging.

The money was mostly wired to three tax havens: the Cayman Islands, the Bermudas and the Virgin Islands, the report said.

The amount of money transferred to tax havens has been on the rise, more than doubling to $1.37 billion as of end-2012 from $556 million in 2009.

The number of companies set up in the tax haven regions jumped to 175 as of last year from about 140 tallied during 2008-10, the report said.

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