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Asia's Labuan Joins Push To Stress Transparency Amid Panama Papers Saga

Tom Burroughes

19 April 2016

Taking its cue from international financial centres such as Jersey, Isle of Man and the Bahamas, the Asia-Pacific jurisdiction of Labuan became the latest IFC to publicise its transparency credentials following the recent "Panama Papers" saga.

The Labuan International Business and Financial Centre said in a statement yesterday that Labuan “ensures rigorous transparency and high regulatory requirements for the business activities undertaken by the players”. 

The leak, or theft, of a vast haul of accounts from Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, with data being transferred to the Washington DC-headquartered International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and other media, has raised fresh pressure on offshore centres around the world.

The saga has already led to the resignation of Icelandic premier Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson as well as the move by UK prime minister David Cameron to publish tax records to defuse criticism about his late father’s use of a Panama structure. The Panama affair has again raised concerns that critics of offshore fail to distinguish sufficiently between secrecy and privacy, and between tax evasion and avoidance. (To view more stories on the Panama affair, see here, here and here.)

“The current issue relating to the information leakage has heightened the demands for greater transparency and effective exchange of information across all international financial centres,” said Danial Mah, chief executive, Labuan IBFC, the marketing arm of the Labuan Financial Services Authority.

Labuan has signed multilateral agreements on information and double taxation with more than 75 countries, the statement said.

To see IFC World, a 94-page publication on financial centres that has been recently issued by the publisher of this news service, click here.