Cracking down on Professional Enablers- 2021 OECD Report

Tax evasion, bribery, corruption, money laundering, fraud, sanction evasion and other white collars crimes are often facilitated by lawyers, accountants, financial institutions and other “professional enablers”. A new OECD report sheds light on the extent on the problem, and offers recommendations.

It is estimated that global illicit proceeds reach a staggering $2 trillion annually. For someone looking to hide, move, and access illicit proceeds, sophisticated legal structures can be created to facilitate money laundering and to obscure the true beneficial ownership.

The nefarious use of shell companies, front companies, nominees, or other means to conceal the true beneficial owners of assets is a significant area of concern in many anti-money laundering (AML) regimes. More concerningly, however, is the increased reports of “professional enablers” assisting in the creation of these complex legal structures and financial schemes (see earlier post on the role Big 4s may have played here)

Enabling such crimes can have significant impacts on government revenue, erode people’s trust in government, and hinder economic growth

The timely new OECD report, Ending the Shell Game: Cracking down on the Professionals who enable Tax and White Collar Crimes, makes recommendations on strategies and actions for tackling the professional intermediaries who enable financial crimes on behalf of clients. The report will also be discussed in depth during the upcoming OECD Global Anti-Corruption and Integrity Forum on 23-25 March 2021

The report addresses 5 key areas:

  1. Understanding the role of professional enablers;
  2. Methods for identifying professional enablers;
  3. Legal and regulatory frameworks to disrupt professional enablers;
  4. Strategies for deterring professional enablers; and
  5. Domestic and international multilateral efforts to address professional enablers.

More to come on that topic as we explore the report and the commentary addressed during the forum.

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