Transparency International calls for immediate action by world leaders to stop secret companies

Panama Papers investigation unmasks numerous public officials using secret companies to hide their wealth

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat



Translations: AR | ES


A global investigation into the use of secret companies by the rich, powerful and corrupt has shown how a network of lawyers, bankers and others around the world hide illicit wealth. Transparency International calls on the international community to act immediately to adopt transparency laws to outlaw secret companies.

The Panama Papers, a massive leak of financial documents, reveal the offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials, including 12 current and former world leaders, who used more than 214,000 offshore entities to hide the ownership of assets.

“The Panama Papers investigation unmasks the dark side of the global financial system where banks, lawyers and financial professionals enable secret companies to hide illicit corrupt money. This must stop. World leaders must come together and ban the secret companies that fuel grand corruption and allow the corrupt to benefit from ill-gotten wealth,” said José Ugaz, the chair of Transparency International.

Transparency International is calling for a renewed push for G20 countries to agree that public beneficial ownership registers should be the global standard, and sanctions applied to jurisdictions that do not conform to this standard. This would include not just the G20, but also the numerous countries big and small where the creation of secret companies is big business.

“How many more massive document leaks do world leaders need to see to understand that the lack of public registers of beneficial owners of companies is what keeps global grand corruption schemes alive and well?” Ugaz said.

Transparency International wants public registers of all companies' beneficial owners to make it harder for the corrupt to hide their illicit wealth in secret companies and trusts that use nominees to register ownership. The G20 have supported measures to increase beneficial ownership transparency, but have done little to implement them. 

“As more information is revealed about how a network of financial middlemen, lawyers, accountants and big banks facilitate both the movement of illicit wealth and the way to disguise who actually owns it, it is clear what has to be done. Enablers who help companies set up secret companies must be sanctioned and jurisdictions that welcome secrecy, must be outlawed,” said Elena Panfilova, vice-chair of Transparency International.

Transparency International has named the state of Delaware, home to thousands of anonymous shell companies thanks to its strict corporate secrecy rules, as part of its Unmask the Corrupt campaign (Unmaskthecorrupt.org) specifically because its corporate registration rules help people hide the true owners of companies.


For any press enquiries please contact

Chris Sanders
T: +49 30 34 38 20 666
E: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Latest

Support Transparency International

How the IMF can have real impact on fighting corruption

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is meeting in Washington DC this week. We want to send a strong message about what the multi-lateral lender can do to have greater impact on fighting corruption.

The impact of the Azerbaijani Laundromat

Since the story of the Azerbaijani Laundromat broke, Transparency International has been following up on the allegations and, along with OCCRP, calling for action to hold to account the politicians, businesses and intermediaries who were named in this complex money-for-influence scandal.

Corruption on the rise in Latin America and the Caribbean

Transparency International asked more than 22,000 people in Latin America and the Caribbean about corruption in their daily lives. The survey also looks at how institutions are perceived and how corruption has been developing in each country.

Sustainable Development Goals turn two: time to ensure justice for all

September 25, 2017 marks the two-year anniversary of the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. Transparency International highlights the need for governments to set meaningful targets for success.

3 things we’ve learned since the Anti-Corruption Summit in London 2016

In May of last year, 43 governments & six international organisations met at the Anti-Corruption Summit and made 648 commitments. To keep up the pressure and make sure that these promises are kept, we looked at 453 commitments to find out what progress has been made - today Transparency International UK has launched a new report and a global pledge tracker with the results.

Azerbaijani Laundromat: grand corruption and how to buy influence

New investigation into a shady financial network that appears to have funnelled money from a US$2.9 billion Azeri slush fund to pay decision-makers and prominent individuals across Europe.

Elections in Angola: time to tackle corruption

The unofficial results of Angola’s elections are expected on 25 August. This is not cause for celebration unless it brings change. Corruption has for too long enriched a small ruling elite while more than two thirds of the country’s population lives in poverty.

Social Media

Follow us on Social Media

Would you like to know more?

Sign up to stay informed about corruption news and our work around the world