By Simon Owen, TEP.
This week sees another irrelevant leak of stolen private documents and data by the ICIJ and their band of media mercenaries.
Branded the ”Pandora Papers”, they have retained their tried and tested approach of releasing a number of articles that are deliberately provocative, insinuative and speculative.
Moreover, in line with the equally loathsome and misleading “Panama Papers” and “Paradise Papers”, most articles generally include disclaimers that indicate that there is no evidence of illegality or wrongdoing. Hardly what I would describe as being “revelations”.
It’s high-time these publicity-seeking paper peddlers acknowledged that the overwhelming majority of offshore jurisdictions are extremely transparent and highly-regulated. Not only that, they also need to recognise that tax neutral jurisdictions are a key functionary of the global financial system, facilitating international investment and essentially assisting in the creation of tax revenues as a result.
The ICIJ’s continued and misleading rhetoric and inference is that we in the offshore world trade in secrecy – which anyone with a basic understanding of offshore financial services will know is not actually the case.
The truth is that, unlike the ICIJ, most of us still firmly believe in the right to privacy, yet we are also fully committed to financial transparency.
As has always been the case, the ICIJ conveniently chooses to completely ignore the considerable efforts of the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands and multiple other offshore jurisdictions to successfully implement beneficial ownership registers, tax information exchanges and economic substance laws. Nor do they even acknowledge how Panama’s commitment to implementing new laws and powers that has seen them suspend more than 50% of the corporations and foundations incorporated in the jurisdiction.
Sadly, in conclusion, the fact remains that the Pandora Papers are nothing more than a vain attempt by the ICIJ to try and remain relevant by throwing out some high-profile names in their imbalanced and misleading reporting. Perhaps one day the ICIJ could follow the offshore world’s lead on transparency in their reporting? Even better still, maybe they could disclose their sources of illegally obtained data? It’s not easy to stand behind a claim of “the public interest” – particularly when the public is not seemingly interested.