The implications of th Panama Papers

The Panama Papers show “the weakness at this stage of the international community,” Robertson argued. “That community has finally a few years ago set up an international court to deal with atrocities. We have quite a good organization in Vienna that inspects potential nuclear developments. We have taken some action against trafficking in humans and drugs. But we haven’t really tackled international tax avoidance. We haven’t tackled the secret movement of the money of the wealthy for various often nefarious, sometimes legitimate purposes. And that’s the real problem.”

Political will is lacking in part because, as we’ve seen this past week, many politicians take advantage of financial secrecy to manage their own wealth. But another reason is the formidable challenge of “getting international agreement for some form of convention,” Robertson said. “The first thing is to ensure that offshore trusts, offshore companies are registered with their beneficial owners. It’s transparency. … And then you have to have an international enforcement body which can have the power, and that has to be granted by an international convention, to go into countries, to go into lawyers’ offices and banks and find evidence of sanctions-busting.”

The Geography of Financial Secrecy