Nearly two thirds of companies fear reputational damage more than fines

London, 6 May 2016 – Companies consider reputational damage resulting from association with something like the Panama Papers to be more of a deterrent than a fine according to the results of a poll by ICSA: The Governance Institute and company secretarial recruitment specialist The Core Partnership. Of those surveyed, 61% said ‘yes’ reputation would be more of a deterrent, 34% said ‘maybe’ and only 5% said ‘no’.


Despite this fear of reputational damage, not all companies consider that their working relationship would be affected if a company they worked with had connections to one revealed to be involved in the Panama Papers leak, with 8% saying that their working relationship would not be affected. Some 24% of respondents did think their working relationship would be affected and 67% said ‘maybe’.

The Core Partnership polls the views of company secretaries, who have privileged insight into the boardroom, with regular monthly surveys in conjunction with ICSA, the professional body for governance. This poll, which was carried out shortly after the story of the Mossack Fonseca leak broke, found the following:

  • Asked if such situations could ever be regulated or if it is a question of morality for companies to monitor themselves, most companies think the latter
  • There is a general feeling that culture is both the cause and the solution
  • Due diligence and Know Your Customer can only go so far in terms of helping companies to ensure that they know exactly who they are involved with all the way down their business chains.


“The line seems to have blurred between people’s understanding of tax avoidance, which is legal, and tax evasion which is not,” says Peter Swabey, Policy and Research Director at ICSA: The Governance Institute. “From a governance perspective, companies should always work within the law, but certain situations require a bit of additional soul searching in terms of what the right thing to do is as opposed to what is purely legal. What is morally acceptable can change over time and may differ according to sector, but the governance litmus test should always be ‘Is what we are proposing the right thing to do?’ It comes down to the culture and values of an organisation, but educating people to obey the spirit rather than the letter of the law needs to start early in life.”


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Notes to Editors:


  1.  ICSA: The Governance Institute is the professional body for governance. We have members in all sectors and are required by our Royal Charter to lead ‘effective governance and efficient administration of commerce, industry and public affairs’. With 125 years’ experience, we work with regulators and policy makers to champion high standards of governance and provide qualifications, training and guidance.
  2. The Core Partnership is a niche market recruitment consultancy working with Company Secretaries and their teams to advise on and resource their specialist interim and permanent manpower needs. With relevant professional backgrounds spanning back to the 1980s, The Core Partnership has a wealth of knowledge of the development and dimensions of the role of the Company Secretary. The team provides market advice on relevant qualifications and experience, conducts salary and benchmarking exercises and works throughout the UK and overseas recruiting at all levels to this specific discipline. 
  3. More detail about the poll findings can be found at
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