Panama Papers: Plan to fight money laundering and corruption

Panama Papers: Plan to fight money laundering and corruption

At the Anti-Corruption Summit in London, UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced a plan to fight money laundering.

The Summit took place yesterday (12 May), a month after the leaks in the so-called Panama Papers about money hidden in shell companies that are incorporated in tax havens. The British Virgin Islands emerged as a major tax haven.

“I have been shocked by the degree to which I find corruption pandemic in the world today,” the American secretary of state John Kerry said at the conference.

According to the proposals put forward by Cameron, companies buying or owning British property, or participating in public tenders in UK, would have to supply information about their beneficial, i.e. the owners of the companies.

Foreign companies reportedly own 100 000 properties in England and Wales, thereof more than 44 000 in London.

Other countries such as Afghanistan, Nigeria, France and the Netherlands announced that they would also set up their own public registers on company ownership. A common EU approach to the issue seems to be lacking.

The ONE campaigning and advocacy organization welcomed the proposals in fighting money laundering and financial corruption but commented that these are only steps in a longer journey.

“The European Commission is committed to exploring the establishment of public central registers of beneficial ownership information for companies and other legal entities and arrangements,” said Tamira Gunzburg, Brussels Director at ONE.

“To fulfil this promise, the Commission should use its upcoming amendment of the Anti-Money Laundering Directive to render the recently agreed registers for beneficial ownership of companies and trusts accessible to the public.”

“The Commission is also committed to support the development of a global commitment for multinationals to publish their tax information. Strengthening last month’s proposal for public country-by-country tax reporting, which currently excludes most countries and most companies, would be the first step in that direction.”

Note: The picture shows activists from the ONE campaign, dressed as faceless financiers  in mock business suits and Panama hats.

The Brussels Times

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