COFFERS’ Ronen Palan spoke at a conference organised by Spear’s, the specialist wealth management magazine, on changes in the international tax system and the future of Asset Management Industry. The panel, which included James Quarmby, Partner, Stephenson Harwood LLP, Robert Brodrick, Partner, Payne Hicks Beach and Clare Maurice, Senior Partner, Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP, focused on the Common Reporting Standard and the Tax Gap in Europe. Other members on the panel raised concerns that CRS was irresponsible because it may hand crucial information to corrupt and authoritarian governments, information that may place clients, as well as practitioners, in danger of false imprisonment, blackmail and even kidnapping. Ronen argued that the industry’s failure to engage constructively with regulators, its habit of blanket denial of its role in enabling tax avoidance and wealth inequality (or that tax avoidance even takes place), and a focus only on the negative aspect of regulation results in blunt regulatory weapons such as FATCA or CRS. Following the letter of the law, rather than the spirit of the law is a poor line of defence. Unless the industry comes clean about its role in enabling tax abuse, its concerns are unlikely to be heeded by governments. Ronen predicted that there will be more, not less, regulations in the future aimed at preventing tax abuse, including an EU version of FATCA, and in time, regulation of financial engineering products and Fintech.