Panama Papers: Panama’s revolving door shows global challenge of offshore reform

By Michael Hudson, Will Fitzgibbon, Emilia Díaz-Struck and Sol Lauría

WASHINGTON, USA (ICIJ) — In June 2000, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) announced a blacklist of 35 “non-cooperative” jurisdictions – including Liechtenstein, The Bahamas and Panama – that were helping corporations and individuals sidestep taxes.

If they didn’t change their ways, the OECD promised, sanctions would follow. Some observers predicted “the death of tax havens.”

Things didn’t turn out that way. With European nations squabbling and George W. Bush’s administration withdrawing US support for the effort, the OECD’s fight against tax havens dissolved, as Tax Notes newsletter put it, “into a series of toothless pronouncements, a mixture of cheerleading and scorekeeping.”

By 2002, Panama was in the clear – one of 28 countries that had made promises and passed laws that allowed them to escape the list.

Organizations and nations continued to roll out blacklists and “gray lists” designed to crimp