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Nov
28

Transparency and Post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals

Ann Hollingshead

About fifteen years ago, the leaders of the world convened at the Millennium Assembly of the United Nations. In the year 2000, at the turn of the century, the world’s leaders adopted the United Nations Millennium Declaration, a commitment to dramatically reduce poverty worldwide. All 193 member states of the United Nations and 23 organizations agreed to achieve the following set of goals:

  1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger;
  2. Achieve universal primary education;
  3. Promote gender equality and empower women;
  4. Reduce child mortality;
  5. Improve maternal health;
  6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases;
  7. Ensure environmental sustainability; and
  8. Develop a global partnership for development.

The nations set a deadline for these goals: 2015. With that year only a few weeks away, it is now time to ask: how well has the world fared in trying to achieve these lofty goals?

Nov
26

The Offshore Wrapper

Tax Justice Network

HSBC Switzerland has been charged by French authorities for “illicit financial and banking practices”.

This comes after the company was placed under investigation last year following the leak of the so-called Lagarde List which is said to contain the names of thousands of HSBC clients with Swiss bank accounts.

According to the Guardian, the investigation has found that the HSBC private bank helped clients in an organised manner evade an astonishing $5bn in taxes. Yes $5,000,000,000.

If French authorities are planning a wider inquiry into “illicit financial and banking practices” at HSBC Switzerland, they may well like to get in touch with their colleagues in Britain, or as they are known in France, Le Hog Roast.

Press Releases
Nov
16

G20 Communiqué Acknowledges Broken Financial System, But Leaves Clear Solutions on the Table

Financial Transparency Coalition

BRISBANE—With the release of the Brisbane communiqué, G20 leaders have acknowledged the cracks in our financial system, yet they haven’t acted on some common sense steps to bolster the fight against illicit financial flows.

“It’s good that G20 leaders have been discussing the ravaging effects tax evasion, avoidance and money laundering have on our economies, but they seem to discuss the problem every year. There is a strong and growing consensus across experts, business leaders, and even the accounting firm Price Waterhouse Coopers on some common sense financial transparency measures,” said Porter McConnell, Manager of the Financial Transparency Coalition. “Unfortunately, G20 leaders left a number of key actions on the table.”

It’s a vital step that G20 leaders have recognized the importance of collecting information on the beneficial owners of companies. But the fact that the word ‘public’ is still missing from both beneficial ownership registers and country by country reporting standards shows that G20 leaders aren’t fully committed to finding the strongest solutions.

Press Releases
Nov
14

This weekend, G20 leaders should roll up their sleeves and work on common sense measures to curb illicit cash

Financial Transparency Coalition

BRISBANE—While G20 leaders are poised to address many of the vehicles that are integral to allowing almost one trillion dollars to flow out of developing countries each year, political pressures should not force talks to backtrack.

“The fact that so many of the world’s leaders are in one place is a rare opportunity to get things done,” said Porter McConnell, Manager of the Financial Transparency Coalition. “The summit should not be seen as a rubber stamping process; heads of state should use their 48 hours in Brisbane wisely to reach consensus on some common sense measures before them to curb illicit financial flows.”

The Luxembourg Leaks investigation demonstrated that tax dodging and profit shifting aren’t just a problem for the tax havens that enable them; the affects are felt in countries all over the world.

Nov
12

Chair of FTC and 24 Others Draft Open Letter to G20 on Anonymous Companies

Christian Freymeyer

Last week, 25 renowned leaders on issues of transparency and equality drafted an open letter to the leaders of the G20 to address anonymous companies at this week’s summit in Brisbane. Alvin Mosioma, Chair of the Financial Transparency Coalition, signed the letter along with the heads of six organizations that are members of the FTC. […]

Press Releases
Nov
6

Luxembourg Leaks Show that Corporate Secrecy is Alive and Well

Financial Transparency Coalition

WASHINGTON D.C. — Newly leaked documents detailed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists describe worrying tax arrangements negotiated between Luxembourg and more than 340 multinational companies. The details of the agreements offer a first hand look at the methods use by corporations to shift profits around the world with ease. “While G20 leaders proclaim that […]

Nov
6

New report from Transparency International: corporate secrecy is alive and well

Alec Simpson

2080966871_c08901a22d_zIn a new report released this week titled Transparency in Corporate Reporting: Assessing the World’s Largest Companies anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International (TI) analyzes the disclosure practices of the world’s largest publicly listed companies. This report is part of a series of studies aimed at evaluating the corporate world’s transparency and accountability practices. In this report, TI looks at 124 corporations and scores them on transparency according to three dimensions: reporting on anti-corruption programs, organizational transparency, and country-by-country reporting.

TI’s research finds that many companies are fairly transparent regarding their anti-corruption programs, but much less so regarding their organizational structures and country-by-country activities.

Despite new legislation dictating enhanced disclosure requirements for companies, much of the elite corporate world remains cloaked by insufficient reporting standards. In many instances, it is difficult for stakeholders and the public to hold companies accountable without open access to information about where they are operating and in what capacity. Most large companies have significant overseas operations but publish very little information about what they do abroad making them increasingly susceptible to corruption.

Oct
31

Finding the Money: how capping illicit flows can spur development

Alec Simpson

As the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals looms, policy makers worldwide have begun discussing a post-2015 development process to formalize new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). While targets have been discussed, creating a comprehensive financing framework remains essential to the process.

Oct
31

How Europe’s Investment Bank flouts its own tax haven policies

Tax Justice Network

The European Commission has launched a series of investigations into the tax structures of companies like Google, Apple and Amazon, for fear that they are siphoning off tax revenue from Europe.

Far less attention has been paid to the role of institutions like the EU-backed European Investment Bank (EIB) in financing this offshore trade, particularly when it comes to developing countries.

Could this change? 

Oct
30

Not an end to secrecy, but a first step in the right direction

Christian Freymeyer

5761956488_abc5734fc7_zA multitude of officials are heralding a new cross-border tax information exchange crafted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as the end of tax evasion as we know it. Unfortunately, the truth may be a bit more ambiguous.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s finance head, stated unequivocally that “banking secrecy in its old form has had its day.” Others, from George Osborne of the United Kingdom to Michel Sapinof France echoed similar praises.

While the reforms, which were discussed at a Berlin conference this week, are a big step in the direction of real financial transparency, the Tax Justice Network, a member of the FTC, has released a new report detailing their concerns with the plan, and why it’s vital that we continue to push for stronger and more inclusive measures.

Press Releases
Oct
30

GFI Notes Significant Progress on Automatic Information Exchange but Warns that Poorest Countries Are Being Shunned

Global Financial Integrity

WASHINGTON, DC – While noting significant progress today in the global effort to curb tax evasion, Global Financial Integrity (GFI) expressed concerns that the OECD/G20 movement toward automatic exchange of financial information was excluding the world’s poorest countries from reaping any benefits while failing to deal with the issue of illicit financial flows in comprehensive manor.

89 countries committed Wednesday to implement automatic exchange of financial information between jurisdictions by the end of 2017 or 2018 at the annual meeting of the Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes in Berlin.

Oct
29

Feeding The 1%: new report exposes the disturbing world of agricultural investors, financial secrecy and land grabs

Naomi Fowler

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The G8 and World Bank argue that the recent huge wave of private sector investment in agriculture increases innovation, jobs and food output.

But is this correct?

Forensic new research from influential campaign group, GRAIN suggests the opposite is true.

GRAIN’s report, Feeding the 1 percent, produces evidence which indicates the avalanche of investment after the 2008 global food crisis is predatory and that investors have “little or no background in agriculture”.

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