Massive leak hammers another nail in coffin of anonymous companies
April 3rd, 2016
April 3rd, 2016
The latest investigation from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) zeroes in on the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, and is perhaps the starkest example yet of how financial secrecy helps fuel crime, corruption, and inequality that stifle development around the globe.
“This latest leak, potentially the biggest ever, is another nail in the coffin for anonymous companies and secrecy jurisdictions,” said Porter McConnell, Director of the Financial Transparency Coalition. “People around the globe are waking up to the damage caused by anonymous companies, complex tax structures, and the lawyers and accountants that help set them up.”
“From the South African mine workers’ families whose death benefit was stolen to the Indonesian parent left unable to pay school fees to the Syrian people who lost their lives in bombing raids paid for via anonymous companies – crime, inequality, and violence are the inevitable result of the extreme financial secrecy available to the rich and powerful through firms like Mossack Fonseca. Ordinary people are no longer willing to pay the price,” McConnell added.
The investigation, which was released on 3 April, involved hundreds of journalists from nearly 80 countries. The leaks reveal that Mossack Fonseca was incorporating offshore shell companies at a breathtaking pace, many of which have been linked to world leaders and prominent businesspeople. Many jurisdictions around the world allow companies to be incorporated without having to provide information on the real person ultimately in control of the company, also known as the beneficial owner.
“I think the breadth of countries and number of journalists involved in this investigation show you just how absolutely pervasive financial secrecy is worldwide,” added McConnell. “While some governments are already taking steps to crack down on financial secrecy, the Panama Papers should serve as a reminder that there’s no time to wait.”
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