Venable partner Ed Wilson was quoted in the Wall Street Journal and Law360 on April 5, 2016 following the release of the so-called Panama Papers. The 2.6 terabytes of data leaked to a German newspaper revealed that a Panamanian law firm helped thousands of clients, including world leaders and high-ranking government officials, set up shell companies to hide their identities and assets. While many of the shell companies were legal, others have been used to avoid taxes or hide proceeds from criminal activity.
While it is likely the Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is using information from the Panama Papers to determine if there was any violation of U.S. tax law or sanctions, Wilson told the Wall Street Journal he was not sure if OFAC "has enough people" to manage the data quickly enough to bring actions. However, he said OFAC will apply lessons it learned while enforcing the Iran sanctions program. "That was, like this, a lot of misdirection in company ownership."
Wilson also spoke with Law360 about how the publication of the Panama Papers will likely lead to calls in the U.S. for states to tighten their rules for setting up anonymous corporations. Congress "will continue to get caught up in the federalism question, but it's only a matter of time," he said.