AN HONEST EYE GC meets Dan Wachtler, President and CEO of IPSA International to talk about the challenges of transparency post Panama documents and the growing trend amongst foreign governments to adopt citizenship by investment programmes
IPSA International provides financial crimes compliance support and investigations, as well as international due diligence services and cyber security to large corporates and governments. Which sector are you seeing the greatest growth in right now? Our company is growing most quickly on the cyber security side, but a close second relates to our work providing due diligence services to countries involved in Immigration Investor Programs. How has the release of the Panama documents impacted your industry? The Panama Papers release has been a boost to our business, for sure. We educate our clients however and advise them that just because someone or some entity was listed in the documents, it does not suggest they were involved in something illicit. Having said that, it certainly raises the risk profile of said individual or entity, in most cases only slightly, but it does increase nonetheless. We have been engaged by multiple clients â€“ including governments - to investigate and perhaps provide additional due diligence on individuals and/or entities as a consequence of them being noted in the documents. The objective of the investigations are generally to use best practices to update
JULY / AUGUST 2016
the due diligence reports, especially given the change in risk profile. Additionally, some clients simply want to know if critical business partners, investors, etc. are listed and if so, what should they be thinking about. Have you had to adopt new strategies for transparency post Panama? While the Panama Papers have been quite the news event, it has not fundamentally changed anything with respect to how we operate our business. It has however provided a real world lesson learned for many people who did not perhaps understand or value the need for due diligence. Furthermore, I believe and hope people will spend more time doing due diligence on the professionals they decide to utilize and on the jurisdictions they decide to keep some of their assets in. Attorneys and accountants - licensed or otherwise - should be looked at closely to ensure they understand and will act according to your appetite for risk and public scrutiny. We have often found that just because someone is an attorney, a banker, people tend to trust more readily - this can be a dangerous assumption. Today, doing due diligence and asking questions of your advisors and even getting a second opinion - just as you would related to health concerns- should be considered a best practice.