08 April 2016

Anil Gujadhur: The Panama Papers

We cannot afford to be cavalier about driving away investors if we really want to consolidate Mauritius’ international financial business. It is ‘our job’ to build up trust about our jurisdiction, not that of our international competitors

Panama, which lies between North and South America, is famed for its canal which provides shipping links connecting the Pacific and the Atlantic Ocean. For those who know, it is also an important international offshore centre.

This week it was at the centre of global news following the leaking of some 11.5 million documents belonging to a Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseka, first to German newspaper, Süeddeutsche Zeitung, and then, through it, to a host of investigative journalists, including the BBC. The BBC aired on Monday this week the news that the leaked documents revealed how the rich and powerful hide their accumulated wealth in an offshore jurisdiction such as Panama.

One doesn’t have to condone malpractices wherever they emanate from. Malpractices are malpractices, no less. But it would be naïve to assume that thefts of all sorts started only when offshores were first set up on the European continent and in the US… Likewise, secrecy has not been invented by offshore business activity. Besides, financial institutions in places like Mauritius are not ‘secretive’; they are required to respect the ‘confidentiality’ of customers’ dealings with them in accordance with law which is applicable not only in Mauritius but in all decent banking systems all over the world…
Powerful countries such as Switzerland, the UK and Singapore get away from being blamed in as strong terms as less well-off countries like Mauritius in such cases. The powerful ones place themselves as more “respected” jurisdictions than the rest by virtue of the fact that they can deploy very sophisticated techniques to shelter themselves in a club apart of stricter jurisdictions as regards strict adherence to rules in the conduct of their international financial businesses. Lesser economies like Mauritius usually get targeted and tarnished in public…
Mauritius Times 

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