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Accusations have been levelled at some offshore jurisdictions of paying lip service to laws designed to improve transparency and reduce corruption
Many of the jurisdictions have been taken off the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) blacklist, but Robert Hunter, head of A&O's trust litigation group, is among those who believe that certain jurisdictions are simply not enforcing the legislation. "You can pressurise any jurisdiction to introduce legislation, but if you want to make a more fundamental change you are going to have to take more radical, and probably unacceptable, steps to influence its political structure. Many offshore jurisdictions are keen to be seen to operate their legislation effectively. But they are the ones which need it least at the outset," he said. "For example, in offshore jurisdiction X, which has no separation of powers and where the government is corrupt, there's no comfort to you that it has introduced money laundering legislation. It's simply a paper exercise for some of these jurisdictions." Lawyers say there is no easy solution. OECD and FATF reintervention would be broadly ineffective, while lasting change can only be brought about by reforming the corrupt regimes. To "suggest there is uniformity [among offshore jurisdictions in relation to transparency legislation] is to delude oneself", said Hunter.