As the year comes to a close, we’ve taken a long look at all that has been accomplished in 2014, and there’s been a lot of change! We’ve released our final newsletter for 2014, which will give an overview of what’s happened on the financial transparency front over the past 3 months. Some of the […]
In the December 2014 Taxcast: how Mafia is corrupting democracy at the heart of Europe in Italy’s capital city of Rome. Also: the #LuxLeaks whistleblower is arrested and makes his first public statements on why he did it, the UK Chancellor’s new ‘Google Tax’, is the EU Commission President Jean Claude Juncker backing away from making a register of real owners of companies and trusts public? And more scandal and unique analysis.
Developing countries are losing twice as much money as they earn because of issues like tax evasion, profits taken out by foreign investors and interest repayments on debt.
A new report – The State of Development Finance for Developing Countries, 2014 – has found that for every dollar developing countries have earned since 2008, they have lost $2.07.
Furthermore they have lost, on average, more than 10 per cent of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) through these financial losses.
WASHINGTON D.C.—The Financial Transparency Coalition congratulates two members of its Coordinating Committee who were named to the International Tax Review’s “Global Tax 50”, a yearly list of the most influential people and organizations in the tax world.
The Brussels-based European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad) and the UK’s Tax Justice Network were featured among other influential voices, like the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Pascal Saint-Amans of the OECD, and the International Monetary Fund.
BRUSSELS — In a deal reached last night, parliamentarians and campaigners have succeeded in making company ownership a fundamental topic. While EU nations have agreed to centralized registers of company ownership information, there is still work to be done to ensure full transparency and public access.
“The amount of progress made over the last year and a half is encouraging, and the fact that all EU nations agreed to centralized registers is a significant step,” said Koen Roovers of the Financial Transparency Coalition. “But with countries like Denmark, France, the U.K. and Ukraine announcing commitments to public access, the European Union should see the writing on the wall.”
WASHINGTON, DC – A record US$991.2 billion in illicit capital flowed out of developing and emerging economies in 2012—facilitating crime, corruption, and tax evasion—according to the latest study released Tuesday by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington, DC-based research and advisory organization. The study is the first GFI analysis to include estimates of illicit financial flows for 2012.
The report—GFI’s 2014 annual global update on illicit financial flows—pegs cumulative illicit outflows from developing economies at US$6.6 trillion between 2003 and 2012, the latest year for which data is available. Titled “Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2003-2012,” [HTML |PDF] the report finds that illicit outflows are growing at an inflation-adjusted 9.4 percent per year—roughly double global GDP growth over the same period.
Yesterday we noted that Rudolf Elmer, the Swiss whistleblower who has been persecuted for years by the Swiss tax haven industry, via the Swiss courts and other arms of Swiss state, collapsed in court during a trial where he is accused of breaking Swiss banking secrecy laws. He has already spent five months in prison and he faces more: read the background here.
The Swiss establishment and media has mostly focused on Elmer the man, rather than the wider issues: many powerful people in rich and poor countries were implicated in the leaks.
Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, has just responded to a letter sent to him by more than 40 leading investigative journalists. The letter urged President Juncker to ensure the creation of public registers of beneficial ownership information as part of the ongoing negotiations of the EU’s 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive. Beneficial ownership information would provide authorities, journalists, and civil society with information on who actually owns or profits from a company. The European Parliament already approved such registers overwhelmingly in March, with a vote of 643-30.
Fittingly on International Anti-Corruption Day, more than 40 investigative journalists from all over the world signed a letter urging Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, and other legislators to finish what the European Parliament started in March: the creation of public registers of company ownership information.
The proposed reform, currently being debated under a new anti-money laundering directive, would create registers to collect information on the real, human owner behind every company operating in the EU. Right now, it’s all too easy to set up an anonymous company and use it for money laundering, embezzlement, arms trading, or tax evasion. These activities, with help from the secrecy shell companies provide, contribute to the nearly US$1 trillion that leaves developing countries in illicit financial flows every year.
Corruption can take many forms. Whether it’s a politician funneling state funds into bank accounts in offshore tax havens, or a multinational corporation skirting their tax responsibilities in a developing country, one thing is clear: corruption stifles development and hinders society. Often, lots of these activities are facilitated by a lack of transparency in our financial system.
Today is International Anti-Corruption Day, which should serve as a day to remind the world why it’s important to speak out against corruption. Feel free to join in the global chorus on Twitter by following the hashtags #breakthechain and #anticorruptionday.
We’ve been following the review of the European Anti-Money Laundering rules (AMLD) closely and reported on this fascinating policy-making process before. One of our key campaigns, the need for more transparency around those that own and control companies—known as beneficial ownership disclosure—is among the most important changes that are up for consideration. With so-called trilogue negotiations (behind closed-door negotiations between European parliamentarians and diplomats), this reform is entering a crucial phase. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem that the different sides of the negotiating table speak the same language when transparency is concerned.
A quick recap: in March, the European Parliament voted 643 to 30 in favor of registers that are publicly accessible. There’s a long list of reasons why making the registers public would be a wise course of action. It would allow citizens, journalists and civil society to hold businesses accountable, make it much easier and quicker for law enforcement—both within and outside the EU—to follow the criminal money trail, and allow businesses to understand who they are partnering with, supplying to, or buying from. Moreover, it would improve the quality of information by allowing as many eyes as possible to spot mistakes or discrepancies.
If all EU member states—united in the ‘Council’—agree to public registers, then this would make it impossible for unscrupulous people to simply relocate to the more opaque parts of Europe. However, after lengthy discussions in Council, a stance seems to be emerging that would seriously compromise the quality and accessibility of the proposed transparency measure. In short, this position would severely restrict what information is collected for the registers and who has access to it. In this blog, we’ll go into detail exploring these two flaws.
In the wake of last month’s LuxLeaks investigation, the G20′s heavy focus on tax avoidance and evasion, and the ongoing trilogue discussion in Europe over the 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive, Ministers from Germany, France, and Italy have issued a letter calling on greater harmonization and strategy in fighting against tax evasion and avoidance.
“This strong initiative taken by the EU, which could be proposed by the end of 2014, would give Europe the leading place it deserves at the international level,” said the letter, signed by Germany’s Wolfgang Schäuble, France’s Michel Sapin and Italy’s Pier Carlo Padoan.
“Our citizens and our companies expect us to cope with tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning. It is our common duty to meet their expectation by ensuring that everyone pays their fair share of tax to the state where profits are generated,” said the letter.
Luxembourg is defending itself against allegations of sweetheart deals between multinationals and tax authorities. New European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a former Luxembourg prime minister, has said he will fight tax evasion with a greater automatic exchange of information.
The Luxembourg affair highlighted how companies exploit tax competition among EU member states to pay less.
The Ministers also address the creation of EU-wide beneficial ownership registers, which would collect information on who is actually behind a company or other legal entity. Making these registers public would drastically limit the ability for anonymous companies to be used in money laundering, tax evasion, and corruption.
You can read the full letter here.