Author:Chizu Nakajima
Position:University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Panama Papersconference in Madrid: transparency vs condentiality”–a
In January 2017, I had the honour of speaking at a conference organised by the European
Parliament Committee of Inquiryinto Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion
(the PANA Committee).The PANA Committee was set up in June 2016 following the leaks
of the so-called Panama Papersto investigate alleged contraventions and
maladministration in the application of Union law in relation to money laundering, tax
avoidance and tax evasion. The conference was ably chaired by Mrs Maite
PagazaurtundúaMEP, who is an active member of the said Committee.
I was particularly honoured as a legal scholar who assists in organising the annual
Cambridge International Symposium on Economic Crime to join a panel of experts in law
and accountancy and a journalist who, together with fellow journalists from around the
world, has been deciphering the Panama Papers, 2.7 terabyte of information containing
11.5 million documents which is the largest data leaksthus far for journalists to work on. As
many of the readers are aware, the Economic Crime Symposium provides a neutral forum
for key people in both public and private sectors and academiaaround the world to discuss
ways and means of preventing and controlling economic crime, which spans widely and
includes such crimes as fraud, corruption and tax evasion. And the common thread that
links these differenttypes of economic crime is money laundering which conceals the origins
of money gained from these crimes and the extensive measures to prevent money
laundering, whichhave been implemented around the world.
The present authors task at the aforementionedEuropean Parliament conference was to
discuss briey the anti-money laundering (AML) measures that impose duties on banks to
disclose information, which in turn may directly conict with their duties of condentiality
owed to their customers (commonlyreferred to as bank secrecy), in the hope that this brief
intervention, focusing on the tension between condentiality and transparency, which has
been intensied as a result of globally extensive AML measures to ght nancial crime,
including tax evasion, might add a perspective to the discussionon a complex set of issues
that face the internationalcommunity today[1].
In 2009, at the London Summit, the G20 countries famously declared that [t]he era of
banking secrecy is over. Since then, the OECD has been continuing to lead the initiative,
which it launched in 1998, to improve countriescapacity to tackle tax evasion that, in its
view, has been facilitated by offshorenancial centres and bank secrecy. This initiative has
received greater support from those governments around the world that have found
themselves in serious need of securing tax revenues to restore the health of the public
nances as they came under particular strainafter the nancial crisis. This has culminated
in the G8 countries stating in their Declaration in 2013, Tax authorities across the world
should automaticallyshare information to ght the scourge of tax evasion.
What has laid the foundation for the development of information sharingbetween tax
authorities, endorsed by the G8 countries, are the information disclosure and sharing
mechanisms that have been established worldwide through the introduction and
implementation of AML and combating the nancing of terrorism (CFT) regimes. The
issues are intrinsically linked as the laundering process is a necessary element in tax
evasion, which in turn is recognised as one of the predicate offences of money laundering.
Journalof Money Laundering
Vol.20 No. 4, 2017
pp. 322-324
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JMLC-08-2017-0035

To continue reading