The Financial Transparency Coalition is a global network working together to address opacity in the international financial system, which creates inequalities that harm billions of people. The Coalition comprises a Coordinating Committee of civil society organizations, a Partnership Panel of governments, an Economic Advisory Council of leading development economists, and Allied Organizations.
The Coalition, by promoting recommendations to create more transparency in the financial system, works to address the systemic issues which stifle economic development. We seek greatly improved financial transparency and accountability on an international level.
The Shadow Financial System and the Need for Greater Transparency
Throughout the past half century, the shadow financial system has expanded to include tax havens, secrecy jurisdictions, anonymous corporations and trust accounts, numbered bank accounts, and fraudulent foundations. Also included in this system are trade mispricing mechanisms, money laundering techniques, and loopholes in laws that facilitate the movement of corrupt, criminal, and commercially tax-evading money across borders.
The consequences of this murky structure and the money it moves are clearer than ever. The financial crises in the United States, the debt crisis in Europe, and the uprisings during the Arab Spring demonstrate the interconnectedness of the international financial system and the need for a global approach in addressing systemic issues. The financial architecture that allows money to move around the world is the same one used by corrupt dictators and drug traffickers to hide funds and evade law enforcement.
The Coalition urges international organizations, governments, and the financial community as a whole to substantially improve transparency in the global financial system. Thus far the debate has given greater emphasis to strengthening regulation within existing structures. While some regulatory improvements are certainly needed, the Coalition believes transparency could dismantle the entire shadow financial system.
The Five Recommendations
The Coalition advocates five core recommendations to improve transparency and accountability:
- Curtailment of mispricing in trade imports and exports – this includes both abusive transfer pricing between multinational enterprises and intentionally mispriced transactions between unrelated parties;
- Country-by-country accounting of sales, profits, and taxes paid by multinational corporations;
- Transparency of beneficial ownership of corporations and trusts;
- Automatic cross-border exchange of tax information on personal and business accounts; and
- Harmonization of predicate offenses under anti-money laundering laws across all Financial Action Task Force cooperating countries.
Cracking down on illicit financial flows would allow developing countries to mobilize more domestic resources, and it would help create a more sustainable global economy for everyone.