Transparency International calls on the regulators of offshore secrecy havens to live up to their promise to take action against dirty money from passing through their financial systems and commit to establishing public registries of beneficial ownership.
The Group of International Finance Center Supervisors or GIFCS (formerly known as the Offshore Group of Banking Supervisors) is made up of the financial watchdogs of twenty secrecy havens, including the British Virgin Islands, Panama and the Cayman Islands. They are meeting in Chile on 29 November.
In April the GIFCS members agreed to provide plans at the Chile meeting to strengthen their oversight of financial enablers like Mossack Fonseca, the firm at the heart of the Panama Papers disclosures. The Panama Papers revealed how secretly owned companies in offshore havens are used for financial crime, corruption and tax evasion.
“Now is the time for real action that goes far beyond commitments on paper and that actually takes serious and enforceable steps to stop the corrupt. The scale and number of Panama Papers stories was unprecedented, yet it is clear they represent just a tiny fraction of the ongoing abuses enabled by secrecy in the global financial system,” said Cobus de Swardt, Managing Director of Transparency International.
Transparency International has written to each of the offshore financial supervisors last week asking them to:
- Publish their action plans to tackle abuses of corporate secrecy
- Publish how they plan to monitor their commitments, and
- Commit to introduce central, public registries of the real owners of companies registered in their jurisdictions.
These twenty secrecy jurisdictions alone hold almost 10 percent of global international banking assets, according to their own estimates.
In 2014, the group of supervisors published an oversight Standard for its members, specifically aimed at providers of secretly owned shell companies and offshore trusts. However, members will only be required to become “largely compliant” with this self-established benchmark by the year 2019.
Given their outsized role in the global financial system, the oversight of the secret company providers operating in these jurisdictions must urgently become more effective or abuses like those uncovered by the Panama Papers will continue.
Transparency International is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption.
Note to Editors:
The members of the Group of International Financial Centre Supervisors (GIFCS) are:
Antigua and Barbuda - Financial Services Regulatory Commission
Aruba - Central Bank of Aruba
Bahamas - Central Bank of The Bahamas
Barbados - Central Bank of Barbados
Bermuda - Bermuda Monetary Authority
British Virgin Islands - Financial Service Commission
Cayman Islands - Cayman Islands Monetary Authority
Cook Islands - Financial Supervisiory Commission Cook Islands
Curacao and St Maarten - Centrale Bank van Curacao en Sint Maarten
Gibraltar - Gibraltar Financial Services Commission
Guernsey - Guernsey Financial Services Commission
Isle of Man - Isle of Man Financial Services Authority
Jersey - Jersey Financial Services Commission
Labuan - Labuan Financial Services Authority
Macao, China - Monetary Authority of Macao
Panama - The Superintendency of Banks of The Republic of Panama
Samoa - Samoa International Finance Authority
Turks & Caicos Islands -Turks & Caicos Financial Services Commission
Vanuatu - Reserve Bank of Vanuatu
Contact details for the GIFCS members are available via the GIFCS website at http://www.gifcs.org/index.php/about/members-and-observers
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