Mossack Fonseca, the law firm involved in the Panama Papers scandal, was ordered to close down its wealth management subsidiaries by Panama’s attorney general, Kenia Porcell, according to Caribbean News Now. In early April, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung released the Panama Papers, roughly 11.5 million files leaked from Panama-based Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in managing companies and money in offshore jurisdictions. The leak, which came from an anonymous whistleblower, represents a treasure trove of documents revealing the identities of many of Mossack’s clients and laying bare the inner workings of their secret accounts. Mossack’s client list includes a mix of criminals, big-businessmen, politicians and heads of state, including such luminaries as the prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif and Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko.
A group of 22 institutional investors who collectively manage $505 billion in assets are calling on Congress to end shell company secrecy. The group, meeting in Washington this week to discuss sustainable investing, has sent letters to both the House and Senate urging legislation to require all American companies to disclose the identities of those who own or control them and to keep the information updated. Knowing the identities behind American shell companies, they say, will help law enforcement better combat fraud, financial scams and other acts that can destabilize markets. “We support this legislation because access to reliable and accurate information is a hallmark of well-functioning financial markets,” said Susan Baker, Vice President, Shareholder Advocacy at Trillium Asset Management. “Allowing opaque corporate structures to exist denies much needed transparency and accountability.”
A recent analysis of high-net-worth individuals by U.S. Trust found that they shared 10 common traits. In addition to hard work, ambition and family upbringing, the 684 respondents with at least $3 million in investable assets say they built their wealth over time, took a basic, long-term approach to investing, were opportunistic and optimistic, made tax-conscious investment decisions, invested in tangible valuable assets, were disciplined savers, had a strong family tradition of philanthropy and stayed married. The main difference the study found was with millennials, who tend to be more independent and knowledgeable investors. “It is noteworthy that while the survey uncovered several examples of generational differences, the one common thread that cut across all generations was the importance and impact of family values as key contributors to success,” said Chris Heilmann, chief fiduciary executive of U.S. Trust. “As such, today’s advisors should be mindful of that focus to engage in values-based planning conversations with their clients.”