Global effort needed to curb the catalysts of foreign money laundering

Amid the third massive leak of offshore account records in the past six years, known as the Pandora Papers, this newspaper urges US President Joe Biden to re-energize the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in line with his campaign promises.

Unlike previous leaks, in 2016 and the following year, the Pandora Papers – a wealth of documents received by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – are twice as large (nearly 3 terabytes of data from 14 offshore service providers) like the Panama Papers, which came from a law firm in the murky industry that harbors wealth.

According to the ICIJ, most of the trillions of dollars of questionable money from authoritarian countries like Russia, or poorer countries like Ukraine, are transferred across the world through layers of intermediary entities. The amounts transferred far exceed what some countries receive in foreign aid.

The briefing shed some more light on where and how world leaders – including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy – billionaires, Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) and celebrities hide their assets in low-tax jurisdictions in distant countries beyond their place of residence.

While legal for legitimate purposes, offshore tax havens are used to flush out ill-gotten money, evade paying taxes and for other reasons in the world of organized crime as shown in countless movies on Netflix and on the television.

While banks and financial institutions in on-shore jurisdictions are generally required to report any suspicious activity to regulators and / or law enforcement agencies, system enablers – lawyers, real estate agents, corporations. creation of companies, accountants, etc. – are not.

Asked by a reporter on Oct. 4 on whether the Pandora Papers revelation affects dialogue between the White House and its strategic partners, such as Ukraine, US spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the issue of ” transparency … Perhaps it makes it even more important to be on the international agenda.

This newspaper agrees and the United States should match its efforts at overseas money laundering and financial transparency at home.

The Pandora Papers have so far revealed an opaque US real estate system with anonymous landlords buying property in cash from Miami to New York, Las Vegas to Chicago.

Called offshore because mostly secret tax havens were previously located on palm-fringed oases like the British Virgin Islands, the United States is home to other similar havens: Alaska, South Dakota, and Delaware, for example. example. In Asia, they also include Singapore and Hong Kong.

As an intergovernmental organization founded by the Group of Seven Democratically Developed Countries (G-7), of which the United States is a member, Mr Biden should crack down on his home, starting with facilitators and enforcing more due diligence standards. strict for financial institutions that accept money.

Unless the status quo changes, the fabric and institutions of established democracies are likely to deteriorate. Illicit money, whether foreign or domestic, destroys what democracies take for granted – freedom of movement, expression and assembly.

Once these pillars begin to erode, the United States will have been inundated and inundated with money that sprouted from abroad eating away at its founding principles.

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