Financial privacy has arguably been trampled upon in the recent Panama Papers saga and industry figures are warning about the need to respect legitimate confidentiality - as opposed to secrecy.
A professional services firm marking its 40th anniversary this year, based out of Malta and the Isle of Man, has called on policymakers to respect legitimate client privacy - as opposed to secrecy - because it is concerned that the furore over the Panama Papers affair will damage the former.
Stewart Fleming, managing director of Abacus, added his voice to the chorus of those (see examples here and here) who have been alarmed that genuine financial privacy and due process of law will be trampled upon in the drama around the Panama leaks.
Fleming argued that “international jurisdictions need to be cautious in their response to the current demand for transparency”.
He said in a note: “This has led to an increasing amount of tax legislation over the years and the continued drive towards more transparency. While this is to be applauded on many counts, it is important to recognise there is a great deal of difference between secrecy and privacy, and we need to be careful that jurisdictions can continue to protect the interests of our clients.
“Privacy is an essential element of services such as ours: it is our hallmark, and while we clearly need to ensure we follow all relevant legislation and regulation, we also need to guard against unnecessary intrusion into legitimate financial arrangements,” he added.
Abacus, as it is now known, was originally the trust business arm of accountants Coopers & Lybrand. The firm became fully independent in July 1998 following the merger of Coopers & Lybrand and Price Waterhouse. The group provides fiduciary and professional administration services including management of trusts, funds, property, as well as aircraft and yachting registration.