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Will the Pandora Papers Change Anything?

Friday 8 October 2021
Tax Haven, Pandora Papers

A few weeks ago, saw the release of the four industry assessments by the Australian financial intelligence unit. one of the most notable findings boing that the big banks assessed as being high risk. 

This week saw the start of the publication based on the Pandora Papers which is the latest the data leak revealing complexed network trusts and tax havens concealing the wealth of major companies and politically exposed persons.

But while the leak highlighted gatekeepers including an Australian connection based on Singapore covered b the is Four Corners Report the challenge the challenge that there isn’t an adequate beneficial ownership registry or that gatekeepers covered under the category Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professionals (DNFBPs).

Thompson Reuters Financial Crime Manager Nathan Lynch who was interview in the ABC’s Four Corners the on Pandora Papers.

“You have this Russian doll sort of arrangement where opaque and offshore structures are used to conceal ownership. And it becomes very difficult for an Australian Bank the, for instance, to unwind that ownership structure when we don’t have things like a beneficial -ownership register to show who are the ultimate people sitting behind these corporate vehicles.”

After the Panama Papers leak in 2016 the New Zealand expanded their money laundering and the counter terrorist financing legislation to include the DNBPs. 

On LinkedIn Lynch writes, “Australia has been particularly hard hit by these leaks, due to the aggressive local marketing of tax ‘minimisation’ schemes from Singapore-based adviser Asiaciti. More than 400 wealthy Aussies will be having either sleepless nights or difficult conversations with the Australian Tax Office in the coming weeks."

But Lynch also asked the critical question for Australian regulator regime when it comes to those gatekeeper professionals not covered under the current AM/ CTF Act:
“Could this be Australia’s belated version of New Zealand’s Panama Papers moment in 2016?”
This question echoes Arctic Intelligence founder Anthony Quin whose question was baked into the title of an article for the GRC Professional: Will Tranche 2 Ever Happen?

Quinn writes in 2016:

My view is that, whilst strong resistance remains from many powerful lobbying groups—for example, the Law Council of Australia, who have argued it would be ‘undesirable and unjust’3 were AML laws applied to their sector, citing an expected implementation cost to the sector of nearly $800m— if Australia’s commitment to stamping out financial crime is ever to be taken seriously on the international stage, then AML laws must be applied to these sectors, and as soon as practicable.
And for moment it did seem like tranche 2 night have been imminent.  In 2018, just months after the Paradise Papers has just become a bigger data leak that the Panama Papers and the Asiaciti merited a mention, the then Austrac National Manager , Strategic Intelligence  and Policy spoke in the of 2016 consultation process and the 2017 cost -benefit analysis saying:

“There isn’t a timetable or date when tranche 2 will be regulated; however, there is progress—important progress, not necessarily visible to yourselves—that will be continued throughout this year and into 2019.”
However, from an international perspective, not every believes that the revelations form the Pandora Papers has hit quite hard enough for any real legislative change. 

Director of Dark Money Files Graham Barrow writes on LinkedIn, “My own thoughts are quite musted. Whilst these are important stories, they add nothing new to the conversation. However, they deeply reinforce what we already know.”

Barrow added, “Offshore centres and complex legal entity structures allow rich or influential people (almost exclusively men) hide wealth that they would find hard to justify were it disclosed transparently.”