Former Varela committee members push tax haven quarantine

The Brussels announcement
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BEATING  Panama’s own report to the punch,  two international experts who resigned from an “independent” committee because of a lack of transparency,  have issued their own bombshell report.

The committee was created by the government of Juan Carlos Varela in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal to assess the country’s financial practices, and strengthen transparency, but Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth resigned alleging that the government was too close to the investigation.

The two released their own report Tuesday,  in Brussels, Belgium.

The document expands the work that both began in Panama after the scandal involving the leak of the files of the law firm Mossack Fonseca one of whose principals was an advisor to Varela, and the other served on a government committee

In their report, the two men said tax havens are “carriers of a dangerous disease” and urged the international community to put them in “quarantine.”

The recommendations apply not only to Panama but for all jurisdictions considered “tax havens,” which presumably would include Switzerland and the United States.

The two experts also claimed that there should be “zero tolerance” for those individuals who benefit from the lack of transparency in the jurisdictions, and said they are used to carry out activities related to the crimes of tax evasion and corruption.

Morally repugnant
“Tax havens offer a wide range of opportunities that not only facilitate tax evasion and avoidance but also for money laundering, thus facilitating all sorts of corruption and socially destructive and morally repugnant activities,” the report stated.

They also called for transparency in the beneficial owners of bank accounts, something that they qualified as a “key” in both allowing the automatic exchange of information to prevent tax evasion and money laundering.

They said all these records should be public so that journalists can access them and report on cases that are ignored by governments for political reasons.

“If one knew where money stolen by a dictator is hidden, it could potentially be recovered,” the report stated.

Panama will publish its own findings this month.


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