As European politicians race to announce tougher transparency laws in the battle against offshore tax havens around the world, many are dragging their feet when it comes to taking action on their own own shores
In fact, Brussels is considering the creation of a new form of incorporation that would enable secrecy.
A proposal currently under consideration in the European Parliament would create single-member private limited liability companies, formally known as Societas Unius Personae, that would shield the identities of their owners.
The aim of the proposed legislation, European parliamentarians say, is to stimulate cross-border business in the economic bloc, especially for startups and small- to mid-sized companies.
But some policy experts vehemently disagree. Markus Meinzer, a researcher at the Tax Justice Network, called the proposal a “scandal.” Europe, he said, should be fighting secrecy rather than promoting it.
“We are creating a European Panama system,” blasted one government source in Berlin in reference to last week’s release of the politically explosive “Panama Papers.” The leaked documents named numerous prominent European politicians and companies allegedly involved in anonymous offshore banking in the Central American tax shelter.