On Friday New Zealand detailed a list of commitments that it had made at the Anti-Corruption Summit in London the day before. According to Police Minister Judith Collins, New Zealand will nominate someone to the International Anti-Corruption Co-ordination Centre, and deny entry to people involved in grand scale corruption.
Other pledges were less concrete, but on the right track: New Zealand will explore establishing a public central register of company beneficial ownership information, and will explore establishing an accessible database of companies with final convictions for bribery and corruption offenses. These would need a lot of work, she said, and would have to go through proper processes. But with tighter rules in place, the country’s reputation as something of a tax haven – justified or not – should fade.
In his closing speech, British P.M. David Cameron lauded that “now 129 jurisdictions have committed to implementing the international standard for exchange of tax information on request – and more than 95 have committed to implementing the new global common reporting standard on tax transparency… We have also agreed today that 22 countries will introduce new asset recovery legislation, 14 will strengthen their protections for whistle-blowers… and 11 countries will review the penalties for companies that fail to prevent tax evasion.”
But firm commitments to a crucial goal — agreeing to publish registers of who really benefits from corporate ownership — were given by only six countries: Britain, France, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Kenya, and Afghanistan. Apart from New Zealand, only a handful of other countries, including Australia, Ireland, Norway, Jordan, Indonesia, and Georgia, said they would “explore doing so.”
The London summit’s takeaways were right in line with the recommendations from the 2015 BCLS panel Global Corruption: Causes and Consequences – above all, continue to push for greater transparency worldwide, with legal accountability. The Panama Papers have only added to the knowledge that much work remains to be done.