As published on icij.org, Wednesday December 18, 2019.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a leading Democratic candidate for the United States 2020 presidential election, has announced a suite of policies aimed at ending global corruption, and cited the Panama Papers investigation as a key reference point for the plan.
In a statement on Tuesday the Massachusetts senator pledged to introduce laws to collect standardized information on the real owners of shell companies around the U.S., and also said she would aim to increase collaboration between governments to combat tax evasion and financial secrecy. According to transparency advocates Jubilee USA, the U.S. is the second-easiest country in the world after Kenya to open a shell company.
Warren’s plan referenced multiple high-profile revelations from the Panama Papers that involved “shell” companies – businesses that exist only on paper.
She highlighted the hidden networks of wealth linked to Vladimir Putin, the offshore assets of family members of the ruling elite in China and Pakistan, and also mentioned tax evasion by soccer superstar Lionel Messi, as well as a number of instances of high-level corruption that extended beyond the Panama Papers revelations.
“What all these cases have in common is the use of legal loopholes and shadowy financial middlemen to obscure assets, or in some cases the proceeds of criminal activity, from law enforcement and government oversight,” Warren wrote.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Süddeutsche Zeitung and 90 media organizations published the Panama Papers investigation in April 2016. The exposé was based on more than 11. 5 million leaked documents from Mossack Fonseca, an offshore law firm founded in Panama that helped heads of state, criminals and celebrities use secret financial hideaways.