The United States is among the top 10 countries with the least financial transparency, making it a perfect tax haven for those unsavory characters looking to launder and hide their ill-gotten cash.
The recent huge leak of documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has revealed how tax havens are used to hide wealth and has focused the world's attention on the Central American nation.
“But international organizations which investigate financial secrecy warn that Panama is not even in the top 10 countries with the least financial transparency,” the BBC
The top 10 nations for financial secrecy according to The Tax Justice Network:
- Hong Kong
- The Cayman Islands
- United Arab Emirates
"There is a double standard: many developed countries host or support jurisdictions where there is an absence of financial transparency," says Alex Cobham of Tax Justice Network.
Switzerland leads the ranking with its almost impenetrable tradition of secrecy in banking, even if — under international pressure — it has recently made some concessions towards identifying the owners of accounts linked to international tax evasion investigations.
Within U.S. borders and just a stone's throw from the White House, the east coast state of Delaware is home to around 945,000 firms, which equates to almost one for each resident.
Delaware is one of four U.S. states — the others are Nevada, Arizona and Wyoming — that have been criticized for their lax financial regulation. Many of the firms are suspected of being "ghost companies."
Transparency International, an anti-corruption campaigning movement, describes the state as a "transnational crime haven."
Meanwhile, another possible reason for the small presence of Americans in the Panama documents is that U.S. citizens hoping to hide funds and activities offshore were not drawn to Spanish-speaking Panama as a haven, when there are options like the British Virgin islands and the Cayman Islands, the AFP reported.
"Americans have so many tax havens to choose from," said Nicholas Shaxson, author of "Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men who Stole the World," a 2011 book on secretive centers for hiding money.
(Newsmax wire services contributed to this report).
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