“The Panama Papers showed the world how the crooks of this world stash away their money,” Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth said at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters.
Mark Pieth (left) formed part of the Panama Papers Probe with Joseph Stiglitz (right), who was also on the panel. Stiglitz, an American Nobel Prize-winning economist and professor at Columbia University, along with Mark Pieth left a seven-member commission tasked with probing Panama's notoriously opaque financial system, after the Panamanian government refused to guarantee the committee’s report would be made public.
The two, along with Margery Kraus, took part in a discussion on combating and ending corruption.
The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters is seen as the foremost creative force for engaging the world’s top leaders in collaborative activities to shape the global, regional and industry agendas at the beginning of each year.
The Panama Papers story was broken by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and involved an enormous leak of 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca that provided the journalists with a trove of information about 200,000 entities incorporated in offshore havens.
As was reported by The Malta Independent, Minister without Portfolio (then Minister of Energy and Labour Party Deputy Leader) Konrad Mizzi and Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri held accounts in Panama.
It was certainly ironic, Stiglitz said, that the Panamanian government was worried that the report would tarnish the country's reputation.
For Stiglitz, the lack of transparency in global financial markets has led to a global framework for corruption, tax evasion and tax avoidance.
He believes that this would be best combated if disclosure on beneficial ownership became a reality. This means that the public would be able to know who owned these trusts.
He also stressed that this has to tackled globally and there should be global commitment to attacking and dismantling secrecy havens.
The 25-page report on the subject produced by Pieth and Stiglitz, entitled “Overcoming the Shadow Economy,” said that, as “economic leaders,” the US and the European Union “have an obligation to force financial centers to comply with global transparency standards.”
The US and EU have shown they have the tools to stem the flow of dirty money in the fight against terrorism, but have failed to use these same anti-money-laundering tools as forcefully in the fight against financial corruption and tax dodging, the report says.
“Secrecy has to be attacked globally – offshore and onshore,” the report says. “There can be no places to hide.”