WASHINGTON, DC – Global Financial Integrity (GFI) expressed skepticism today that the settlement reached between the United States government and BNP Paribas SA would effectively punish the company for its systematic subversion of U.S. sanctions over a decade-long period or effectively deter similar conduct in the future.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced late on Monday that “between 2004 and 2012, BNP engaged in a complex and pervasive scheme to illegally move billions through the U.S. financial system on behalf of sanctioned entities” in Sudan, Iran, and Cuba, going “to elaborate lengths to conceal prohibited transactions, cover its tracks, and deceive U.S. authorities.” This pattern of behavior continued despite warnings by U.S. officials, opinions from reputable international law firms, and repeated statements from the bank’s own compliance officials that this conduct was illegal. According to the New York Department of Financial Services, the transactions involved totaled greater than $190 billion.
G8 countries have yet to live up to the important commitments they made on tax and transparency at their Northern Ireland summit a year ago. According to new analysis by Christian Aid, Action Aid, Global Witness and the Financial Transparency Coalition the UK government needs to build on its leadership if there is to be a strong and lasting legacy to the tax commitments made at Lough Erne.
At the gathering hosted by David Cameron at Lough Erne on 17th and 18th June 2013, G8 leaders declared that they would tackle some of the ways in which rich and poor countries alike lose billions each year to tax dodging, corruption and other financial crimes.
Civil Society Experts Call on Delaware to Create Public Registry of Beneficial Ownership Information
WASHINGTON, DC – Global Financial Integrity (GFI) and Global Witness expressed disappointment that the Delaware House of Representatives passed two bills this evening that do little to stop criminals from using Delaware companies to launder their illicit proceeds.
The two pieces of legislation are House Bill 327 and House Bill 328, which would establish a chain of people that need to be consulted, in turn, in order to identify a person at a limited liability company or limited partnership who has a list of the entity’s legal owners. Legal owners may be other companies with hidden ownership or nominees, which are essentially front people for the real owner. The bills will now proceed to the State Senate for consideration.
13 May 2014 – The secrecy surrounding thousands of subsidiaries created in tax havens by leading UK companies has created a black hole at the heart of the FTSE100, a new Christian Aid report warns today.
FTSEcrecy reveals an information void which threatens investors, customers and government regulators, because it leaves them without the facts they need to make good decisions about FTSE100 companies.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark / WASHINGTON, DC – The fraudulent misinvoicing of trade is hampering economic growth and potentially resulting in billions of U.S. dollars in lost tax revenue in Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda, according to a new report [ HTML | PDF ] to be published Monday by Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington DC-based research and advocacy organization. The study—funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark—finds that the over- and under-invoicing of trade transactions facilitated at least US$60.8 billion in illicit financial flows into or out of the five African countries between 2002 and 2011.
“It is deeply disconcerting that illicit financial flows are taking such a serious toll on the economies of Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda,” noted Mogens Jensen, Danish Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation. “Denmark has for several years supported Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Uganda in fighting poverty and promoting economic growth and job creation. These efforts are clearly at risk of being undermined by fraudulent trade transactions which rob the people of these countries of funds that could otherwise have been used for investments in infrastructure, schools, hospitals, and other much needed public services. I hope that the study can help the governments in their efforts to curb illicit financial flows.”
WASHINGTON, DC – The latest issue of The Economist profiles the problem of trade-based money laundering, which drains hundreds of billions of dollars from developing economies each year, according to Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization. The prestigious financial news magazine cites heavily from GFI’s research and experts, while warning that efforts to tackle trade misinvoicing are “the weakest link” in the international effort to fight illicit financial flows.
Vancouver, Canada, March 18, 2014 –This year’s TED Prize winner – Charmian Gooch of Global Witness – has announced that she will use the prestigious million-dollar award “to make it impossible for criminals and corrupt dictators to hide behind anonymous companies.” The announcement was made live and online from the TED stage in Vancouver, with […]
Joint NGO Media Reaction Financial Transparency Coalition – Eurodad – Global Witness – Transparency International EU Office – Oxfam Brussels, March 11, 2014 – Today, the European Parliament endorsed the creation of public registers of who really owns companies, trusts and other legal structures. This will make it much harder for criminals, tax evaders, corrupt politicians and other money launderers to hide their identity, and their […]
Joint NGO media reaction
Financial Transparency Coalition – Eurodad – Global Witness – Oxfam
A cross political party agreement in the European Parliament puts pressure on EU member states to step up the fight for corporate transparency
Brussels, February 20, 2014
Soon it might be a lot harder for criminals, tax evaders, corrupt politicians and other money launderers to hide their identity and their illicit funds behind anonymous shell companies, following a key vote today in the European Parliament.
Today European parliamentarians from the Economic and Monetary Affairs (ECON) and Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committees voted in favour of public registries which would provide information on the real, or ‘beneficial’, owners of companies. The long-awaited vote, which recommends significant improvements to the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD) and would make it much harder for criminals to launder their money using European companies. It would require each member state to establish registries that are open to the public upon online identification.
“By voting for publicly accessible registers of beneficial ownership, European parliamentarians have made a major breakthrough in the fight against international organised crime and industrial scale tax evasion” explained Koen Roovers, EU advisor for the Financial Transparency Coalition. “It will bring greater financial transparency and strengthen corporate accountability.”
The FACT (Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency) Coalition today praised Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) for the introduction of the Sequester Delay and Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act. Among other things, this legislation would close or tighten tax loopholes that have been used by some of the most profitable multinational corporations – Apple, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and Nike – to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Some tax loopholes allow corporations to use complex accounting schemes to make it appear that profits earned in the United States are actually generated in other countries, often a tax haven with little or no tax on profits.
As an added benefit, closing these loopholes will also generate over $220 billion over the next ten years, which can be used to delay some of the automatic budget cuts that Congress put in place through sequestration.
The FACT coalition contends that the use of these loopholes by corporations to move jobs and profits offshore drains the U.S. of much-needed resources and economic activity. As it stands, Congress is struggling to make up the required revenue needed to maintain our national security and provide for a functioning government.
Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 offers a warning that the abuse of power, secret dealings and bribery continue to ravage societies around the world.
More than two thirds of the 177 countries in the 2013 index score below 50, on a scale from 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).
“The Corruption Perceptions Index 2013 demonstrates that all countries still face the threat of corruption at all levels of government, from the issuing of local permits to the enforcement of laws and regulations,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International.
Some of the world’s most infamous secrecy jurisdictions, such as the British Virgin Islands and Jersey are considering becoming more transparent, whereas several G8 countries lag behind, said campaigners today. A new report,  published by Global Witness and Christian Aid today on the eve of a meeting between the UK government and the heads of the Overseas Territories, grades each of the G8 countries and the UK’s tax havens as to how easy it is to find out the names of the ‘beneficial owners’ of companies – the people who ultimately own and control them.
“Tax dodgers, child traffickers, corrupt politicians and other money launderers all rely on the use of anonymous shell companies to hide their identity,” said Rosie Sharpe, Senior Campaigner at Global Witness. “To tackle this sort of financial crime, the names of the beneficial owners of companies need to be made public for all to see.”
Abuses of anonymous shell companies have received high-level political attention recently. At the G8 summit in June 2013 all the G8 countries as well as the UK’s Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories produced plans to tackle hidden company ownership. Some are better than others. Those places that promise more transparency deserve recognition, whereas the places that have not yet embraced this move towards greater transparency deserve exposure.