Today, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) will release a searchable database of over 200,000 companies, trusts, foundations and funds incorporated in 21 tax havens from Hong Kong to Nevada. This data reveals a network of offshore companies and the people behind them.
While offshore activity can have a legitimate purpose, what the Panama Papers leak shows is just how often offshore structures are used to hide corrupt activity that enriches already wealthy individuals, at the cost of ordinary citizens in poorer countries.
Commenting, Web Foundation CEO Anne Jellema said:
“It’s time to get on the front foot against corruption – after years of promises, it is simply not good enough that we have had to wait for a leak to show us how deep the rot goes. Today, company data is the type least likely to be open according to our latest Open Data Barometer. If we want to stamp out corruption and tax evasion for good, we must change this. Politicians must make good their promises to bring secretive structures into the light through proactive data disclosure, starting at this week’s Anti-Corruption Summit.
“Here are three ways governments can take action. First, it’s time for the long-overdue global beneficial ownership registry to become a reality. Second, governments should open up the billions they spend on public contracting to scrutiny by adopting the open contracting data standard. Last, governments should put their commitment to transparency beyond doubt by adopting the international Open Data Charter and pledging to implement its anti-corruption tools”.
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