There has been a great deal of media focus in the build-up to Thursday’s anti-corruption summit but, while the amount of news has been substantial, it has also served to show the risks of introducing a public register.
The most recent batch of Panama Papers that were released this week have not seemed to have the impact that the media had previously claimed. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists stated their reasoning for broadcasting such information is because it is of public interest.
However media outlets seem to be much more interested in covering the revelation that, feminist activist, actress and generally all round good girl Emma Watson, as being named to have a company registered in the British Virgin Islands. Her response to the claims exemplifies the risks associated with having a public registry.
A spokesperson for Miss Watson stated: ‘Emma receives no tax reductions or monetary advantages from this overseas company at all, only privacy. As all UK companies must publicly declare all Shareholders details, which does not give her the anonymity she requires in order to safeguard her personal protection. Overseas companies such as in the British Virgin Islands do not publish such information.”
This demonstrates the huge difference between something that is in “the public interest” as specified by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, for example Emma Watson’s financial activities, published next to a glamorous photo of her. And information that is supposedly of interest to the public which her perfectly legal financial affairs should not be.