US says reviewing Panama papers

              Panama Papers: "We are aware of the reports and are reviewing them," US Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said.. Panama papers: “We are aware of the reports and are reviewing them,” US Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said.

The US was reviewing the leaked ‘Panama papers’, which lifted the lid on the murky offshore financial dealings of a slew of politicians and celebrities across the world, including 500 from India, and will follow up on corruption linked to it, the Justice Department has said.

“We are aware of the reports and are reviewing them,” US Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said yesterday. “While we cannot comment on the specifics of these alleged documents, the US Department of Justice takes very seriously all credible allegations of high level, foreign corruption that might have a link to the United States or the US financial system,” Carr said.

Panama Papers exposes the offshore links of some of the world’s most prominent people, including 12 current and former world leaders, and reveals how associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin secretly shuffled as much as USD2 billion through banks and shadow companies.

WATCH| Explained: What Do The Panama Papers Reveal

The White House did not had any specific comments in the leaked documents, but said the US has been a leading advocate of for increased transparency in the international financial system. “We’ve seen the extensive reporting that’s been done on these leaked documents. I don’t have a comment on the specific allegations that are included in those documents, but I can tell you that the US continues to be a leading advocate for increased transparency in the international financial system, and in working against illicit financial transactions and in fighting corruption,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

“There’s been a lot of talk over the course of the last year or so about how effective US sanctions that are imposed by the Treasury Department can be effective in advancing the national security interest of the United States,” he said. “That’s true if we are isolating the Russians because of their violation of the territorial integrity of the sovereign nation of Ukraine, or increasing isolating and pressuring the North Korean regime to give up their pursuit of nuclear weapons, or in targeting ISIL’s financial operations,” he said in response to a question on the leaked Panama papers.

That’s why the US is a leading advocate of greater transparency in international financial transactions. Greater transparency allows to root out corruption and to fight efforts to get around US sanctions that have been put in place, he argued. But whether or not these documents reveal substantive, legitimate evidence of people thwarting monitors of the international financial system, the United States will continue to be a leading advocate of greater transparency in its financial system, Earnest said.

“That’s something that we have long pursued, and we’re going to continue to be at the forefront of making that argument because it contributes to our national security,” he said. There are officials both at Treasury Department and Department of Justice who have responsibilities here. The effective completion, or the effective implementation of those strategies by the Department of Treasury and the Department of Justice also rely on effective coordination with our partners around the world, he added.

“So there obviously is an opportunity for the US to use some of our leverage as a leader in this field and as the world’s largest economy to bring about some of the changes that we would like to see. We have been doing that for a long time. Those efforts are only going to continue,” Earnest said.

“We’re going to continue to be a leading advocate for that kind of transparency. There will continue to be large groups of national security professionals at the Department of Justice and at the Department of Treasury who will continue to be focused on these issues,” he said.

WATCH| Panama Papers: Big Names In The Global List

The latest investigation from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) zeroes in on the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, and is perhaps the starkest example yet of how financial secrecy helps fuel crime, corruption, and inequality that stifle development around the globe, said Financial Transparency Coalition. “This latest leak, potentially the biggest ever, is another nail in the coffin for anonymous companies and secrecy jurisdictions,” said Porter McConnell, Director of the Financial Transparency Coalition.

“People around the globe are waking up to the damage caused by anonymous companies, complex tax structures, and the lawyers and accountants that help set them up,” he said. “From the South African mine workers’ families whose death benefit was stolen to the Indonesian parent left unable to pay school fees to the Syrian people who lost their lives in bombing raids paid for via anonymous companies – crime, inequality, and violence are the inevitable result of the extreme financial secrecy available to the rich and powerful through firms like Mossack Fonseca. Ordinary people are no longer willing to pay the price,” McConnell added.


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