Following the leak of what we’ve now come to know as the Panama Papers, I joined Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the OECD’s Centre for Tax Policy and Administration, Friederike Röder, France Director of the NGO One and Serge Michel, a journalist at Le Monde, on the TV channel France 24, to share my thoughts about the global impact of this leak.
Here are my four main points:
- Because of an efficient US tax fraud policy, there are very few Americans included in the Panama Papers.
French newspaper LeMonde addressed this phenomenon in its article– the one I reference in my interview.
And The New Yorker also posed this question in its coverage of the Panama Papers, presenting some of the same points.
- Public registries of companies’ beneficial ownership is not the magic wand some people think it is. Public registrars are not armed to check the information provided to them on such a complex issue as the identity of a beneficial owner. The World Bank STAR initiative took on this topic in its “Puppet Masters” report, to which FraudNet gave its contribution.
- Companies’ service providers (and this includes law firms) should always have the information about beneficial ownership available. This information should be available on the basis of a judge order for law enforcement as well as for victims of fraud. Law firms, when they act as company service providers, should not abuse legal privilege or confidentiality rules, as in the case of Mossack Fonseca.
- Finally, I raised the question as to whether whistleblowers should be rewarded as the US legislation provides for.
Watch the two-part debate here:
“Haven Forbid: Panama Papers, how to stop tax dodging?” on France 24