Stiglitz, Pieth call for "quarantine" of tax havens


Four months after resigning from the independent committee of experts created by the government of Juan Carlos Varela to assess the country's financial practices and strengthen transparency, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz and Swiss anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth released their own report Tuesday in Brussels, Belgium.

The document expands the work that both began in Panama after the scandal involving the leak of the files of the law firm Mossack Fonseca. In their report, the two men said tax havens are "carriers of a dangerous disease" and urged the international community to put them in "quarantine."

The recommendations apply not only for Panama, but for all jurisdictions considered "tax havens," which presumably would include Switzerland and the United States.

The two experts also claimed that there should be "zero tolerance" for those individuals who benefit from the lack of transparency in the jurisdictions, and said they are used to carry out activities related to the crimes of tax evasion and corruption.

"Tax havens offer a wide range of opportunities that not only facilitate tax evasion and avoidance, but also for money laundering, thus facilitating all sorts of corruption and socially destructive and morally repugnant activities," the report stated.

They also called for transparency in the beneficial owners of bank accounts, something that they qualified as a "key" in both allowing the automatic exchange of information to prevent tax evasion and money laundering.

They said all these records should be public so that journalists can access them and report on cases that are ignored by governments for political reasons.

"If one knew where money stolen by a dictator is hidden, it could potentially be recovered," the report stated.

Panama will publish its own findings this month.



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