WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The United States remains a far greater hiding place than Panama for criminals and terrorists to hide their wealth through shell corporations, United Nations adviser Eric LeCompte told Sputnik.
"The United States is a preferred location for setting up fake companies," LeCompte stated on Thursday. "The problem the United States must confront is how to prevent corrupt officials, dictators, terrorists, human traffickers, mobsters and weapons dealers from using US-based companies to launder money."
LeCompte, who serves on expert working groups for the UN Conference on Trade and Development, warned that Washington had no grounds for complacency after the publishing of the Panama Papers.
"The United States has its own problem with anonymous companies. There's little need for Americans seeking to hide their money to do so through foreign shell companies," he said.
Dictators and criminal organizations around the world were also attracted to operate in the United States because it gave a fake veneer of legitimacy to their activities, LeCompte explained.
The current structure of US laws and the policies of successive administrations had created an international system in which vast accumulations of capital could be moved with impunity to offshore havens such as Panama, LeCompte added.
"Trade is important. It's important that trade deals lift up people living in poverty and not worsen economic inequality. The US should craft trade deals that prevent this type of financial crime," he said.
Enormous offshore concentrations of wealth for US-based legal corporations as well as for fronts for criminal enterprises could easily be used to direct major funding to preferred political candidates ensuring their election in supposedly democratic process, LeCompte also suggested.
"Anonymous shell companies facilitate crime and secrecy of all kinds. There is certainly a campaign finance angle — just as there are many other angles," he observed.
Earlier on Thursday, a US Treasury Department official told Sputnik that the United States will take appropriate action if there have been any violations of US tax laws, although they could not comment specifically on the Panama Papers.
The US government, the Treasury Department official added, uses all sources of information, both public and non-public, when investigating financial crimes.
Eric LeCompte also serves as executive director of Jubilee USA, a religious anti-poverty coalition of 75 US member organizations and 550 faith communities.