By Mike Godfrey, Tax-News.com, Washington
Panama needs to require greater due diligence from financial and banking institution to tackle tax fraud in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, a United Nations official has said.
"The main component of illicit cash flows at the global level is tax fraud," UN rights expert Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky told UN News. "These funds, which circulate and are deposited in the shadows of the financial and corporate systems, consolidate poverty and inequality in the world.
" While he said the focus of the Panamanian authorities should be on the fight against tax evasion, he also acknowledged Panamanian authorities' efforts to promote financial and corporate transparency and to strengthen the financial regulatory system, adding that Panama now has a more robust regime than it did a few years ago.
"The most onerous tax evasions must be severely punished within the framework of a comprehensive strategy covering all dimensions of tax fraud," Bohoslavsky said. He added that financial and non-financial intermediaries have the "duty of knowing the client" and should be obligated to report suspicious transactions, rather than facilitate them.
He further advocated the adoption of clear legislation "to prevent conflicts of interest of public officials and to ensure the autonomy of regulatory agencies."