FCA Widens Probe Into Firms' Ties To Panama Papers

Amisha Mehta, Assistant Editor, London, 28 April 2016


The UK's financial watchdog has written to another batch of firms for information on links they may have to the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers saga.

The UK's Financial Conduct Authority has called on 44 more financial services firms to carry out urgent reviews on whether they have links to Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers affair.

The firms were required to send their initial findings to the FCA last week. Earlier this month, the watchdog gave a number of banks and financial services firms until Friday 15 April to check for ties to Mossack Fonseca or to companies formed or managed by the firm.

Speaking to the UK's Treasury select committee on Monday, the FCA's acting chief executive, Tracey McDermott, said: “It’s far too early to give any views as to preliminary findings, and there’s nothing necessarily illegal about having offshore arrangements, it all depends on their purpose.”

When Labour MP Helen Goodman asked whether the existing information represented the “tip of the iceberg”, McDermott replied it was hard to know what the iceberg is. 

“There have been reports of some serious issues of criminality and some things which may or may not be attractive, but also may or may not be criminal,” she said.

McDermott also confirmed that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has not released the original leaked papers.

The furore over the Panama Papers data leak has provoked a number of industry figures to speak out in defence of legitimate confidentiality. Those that have recently come forward to support the argument include Stewart Fleming, managing director of Abacus, a professional services firm based out of Malta and the Isle of Man, and Professor Philippe Braillard, a senior academic in Switzerland.

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