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IFCs Line Up To Stress Compliance Credentials Amid Panama Saga

Tom Burroughes

7 April 2016

More jurisdictions are lining up to insist their standards of conduct should not be tainted by the scandal surrounding the massive leak of data from Panama. The saga has put politicians and IFCs in the firing line.

, the organisation representing Jersey’s banking, wealth and related sectors, said authorities on the island have full knowledge on the beneficial owners of structures set up there. The comments came from Geoff Cook, Jersey Finance’s chief executive.

A statement from financial authorities in Bahamas, meanwhile, said the jurisdiction was compliant and operated under global regulatory standards. Earlier this week, Guernsey, a rival to Jersey, said it pushed for the highest standards of conduct and transparency. 

The Panama affair has sent a chill through much of the offshore world and the disclosure of a vast trove of data has already caused a political storm in countries such as the UK and Iceland, among others. The late father of current UK prime minister David Cameron at one stage is reported to have had a Panama-related company. Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned after the revelations about his personal finances. UK opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn has called for direct UK rule over certain jurisdictions with ties to the UK. 
“The Panama Papers challenge the use of offshore companies to hide the identities of the ultimate company owners - the beneficial owners. Jersey’s position on hiding the identities of beneficial owners is very clear: we do not allow it. Jersey has captured beneficial ownership information on a corporate registry since 1999 and this enables Jersey to provide law enforcement and tax authorities with ‘adequate, accurate and timely’ data - the specific requirement of Recommendation 24 of the FATF Recommendations,” Jersey Finance’s Cook said in a statement. (He was referring to the Financial Action Task Force, a government-backed group seeking to draw up standards to crush dirty money flows.)

“Where there is found to be illicit or fraudulent activity in any country anywhere in the world, it is absolutely right that it should be challenged and investigated,” he continued. “There have been a lot of allegations and speculation reported regarding Mossack Fonseca and the so called ‘Panama Papers’. Although Mossack Fonseca has a small office in Jersey, there is no suggestion that any illegal activity has taken place on the island or involved Jersey-registered companies,” he said.

In the Bahamas, the Minister of Financial Services, Hope Strachan, said.: “This using a bilateral approach that is fully endorsed by the OECD,” it said.