Two leading offshore centres have accused the US of hypocrisy over financial transparency, saying the world’s biggest economy lags behind standards in their own jurisdictions.
At an international summit on corruption hosted in London by UK prime minister David Cameron, the US on Thursday came under pressure over its failure to create a register of the real owners of companies registered in the country.
Allan Bell, chief minister of the Isle of Man, called the US “a major secrecy jurisdiction and tax haven”, saying nearly 10 times more companies were registered in a single building in the low-regulation state of Delaware than in his territory.Alden McClaughlin, Cayman Islands president, also criticised “hypocrisy” in the global debate, saying the US and other nations should not be exempt from any requirement on standards and referring to Delaware and Wyoming.
The criticism emphasises how the campaign for financial transparency has shifted focus — from poor countries to offshore tax havens and now to the world’s largest economies. Momentum has gathered since the leak of the Panama Papers last month, although relatively few US companies were implicated.
“Where I get angry is the hypocrisy of the US in particular, which has been preaching to the world about the importance of access to information relevant to the US, but they themselves have not been moving at the same pace [as offshore financial centres],” Mr Bell told the FT.
Mr Cameron himself said the US faced “challenges”, adding: “Delaware has lots of companies registered and not much transparency over them.” He added that Britain’s overseas territories and Crown dependencies such as the Cayman Islands, were “ahead of many developed states” in pledging to establish registers of ownership and automatically share information with foreign tax authorities.The US had been seen as a leading force in fighting corruption, thanks largely to the 1977 Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act. But its commitments ahead of Thursday’s summit fell well short of campaigners’ demands.
The Obama administration said last week that it had submitted draft legislation to Congress requiring companies to disclose their real ownership to the US Treasury. But legislative approval will be difficult and any information would not be publicly accessible.
Additional reporting by Vanessa Houlder in London
马恩岛(Isle of Man)首席部长艾伦?贝尔(Allan Bell)把美国称为“一处主要的秘密管辖地和避税天堂”。他表示，在美国监管较松的特拉华州，某一栋大楼里注册的公司数量接近马恩岛的10倍。开曼群岛(Cayman Islands)总统奥尔登?麦克劳林(Alden McClaughlin)也批评了这场国际讨论中的“虚伪”。他表示，美国和其他国家不应当被监管标准排除在外，并特别提及了美国特拉华州和怀俄明州。
卡梅伦本人表示，美国面临着“诸多挑战”。他接着说：“美国特拉华州的注册公司非常之多，这些公司的情况也不太透明。”他又说，英国的海外领地以及开曼群岛等英国皇家属地，在承诺登记股东身份并自动分享给外国税务当局方面，“走在了很多发达国家的前面”。美国一直被视为全世界在反腐败领域的一支主要力量，这主要得益于1977年出台的《反海外腐败法》( Foreign and Corrupt Practices Act)。但在周四峰会召开之前，美国的承诺远远低于呼吁者们的要求。