Two years after the Panama Papers scandal, drew the attention of the world to the Isthmus and a thriving- now disappeared – law firm with close ties to the ruling administration, the European Union (EU) and others are better prepared to face fraud and tax evasion.
The EU has adopted numerous new regulations responding to the journalistic investigation which highlighted the magnitude of activities in tax havens, says an EFE News agency report.
On April 3, 2016, the journalistic investigation resulting from the massive filtering of documents brought to light the activities of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, that created 214,000 opaque companies operating in 200 countries or territories, as well as the participation of more than 500 banks and 140 politicians and other public figures.
The interest, indignation and public pressure that was awakened has been kept alive in the heat of new scandals like the paradise papers and with the recent murders of two journalists who investigated cases of corruption: the Maltese Daphne Caruana Galizia and the Slovakian Jan Kuciak.
The EU decided in 2016 to intensify its efforts to tackle these practices and the European Commission (EC) put on the table several proposals that were added to others already presented: many have been approved with unusual speed, but others remain in the pipeline. Just three months after the scandal of the Panama papers the countries approved the directive Against the Evasion of Capital (ATAD), with rules to prevent companies from transferring their profits to countries where they would not be taxed or that escape taxes by reallocating assets or deducting interest on loans between companies.
It will come into force next year and its objective is to tackle some of the most frequent tricks among companies, which manage to evade between $50, billion and $70, billion a year, according to a study by the European Parliament.
In July 2016 the Commission also proposed amending the anti-money laundering directive to oblige companies to reveal the identity of their owners in a register accessible to the authorities taxpayers and the public, and to the countries to verify the data.
Last month the most recent initiative was approved: a rule that will force the advisors’ prosecutors -consultants, banks or lawyers, among others- to inform the authorities when designing plans that can help evade.
Both rules should take effect in 2020. However, the most talked-about measure has been the creation of the first community list of fiscal paradises
The EU published it last December with 17 countries which have been reduced to seven after some have committed to change their legislation: American Samoa, Bahamas, Guam, Namibia, the islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad, and Tobago and the US Virgin Islands.
More than 50 troubled countries committed to making legislative changes