ISLAMABAD: The Transparency International has urged the international community to act immediately to adopt transparency laws to outlaw secret companies.
The Transparency’s call comes in the wake of release of `Panama Papers’ revealing use of offshore companies worldwide by the rich, powerful and corrupt to avoid taxes and hide illicit wealth.
Panama Papers reveal offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials, including 12 current and former world leaders, who used more than 214,000 offshore entities to hide the ownership of assets.
“The Panama Papers investigation unmasks the dark side of the global financial system where banks, lawyers and financial professionals enable secret companies to hide illicit corrupt money. This must stop. World leaders must come together and ban the secret companies that fuel grand corruption and allow the corrupt to benefit from ill-gotten wealth,” said Jose Ugaz, the chair of Transparency International.
“How many more massive document leaks do world leaders need to see to understand that the lack of public registers of beneficial owners of companies is what keeps global grand corruption schemes alive and well?” Ugaz said.
The Transparency International wants public registers of all companies’ beneficial owners to make it harder for the corrupt to hide their illicit wealth in secret companies and trusts that use nominees to register ownership. The G20 have supported measures to increase beneficial ownership transparency, but have done little to implement them, it says.
“As more information is revealed about how a network of financial middlemen, lawyers, accountants and big banks facilitate both the movement of illicit wealth and the way to disguise who actually owns it, it is clear what has to be done.
Enablers who help companies set up secret companies must be sanctioned and jurisdictions that welcome secrecy, must be outlawed,” said Elena Panfilova, vice-chair of Transparency International.
Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2016