Norway’s oil fund: a minor victory for tax ethics

   0   0 Blog, Tax and corporate responsibility

Norway oil fund*Big new update* under this guest blog. 

Norway’s Oil fund, which says it is worth $7.1 trillion Kroner last year (about US$860 billion at current exchange rates), is so important in world markets that a cottage industry of fund-watchers has sprung up. Several civil society bodies have sought to influence the fund, in particular to get it to invest in a more ethical and responsible way. Now Sigrid Klæboe Jacobsen, Director of Tax Justice Network – Norge, has written us a guest blog outlining a meaningful advance in this area.

Minor victory for tax ethics in the Norwegian Oilfund

On Monday the 30th May 2016 the Norwegian Parliament voted in favour of including tax ethics in the investments made by The Government Pension Fund Global (popularly called the Oilfund and managed by Norges Bank – NBIM). The Parliament has requested that the Oilfund produces an “expectation document” on tax for companies they invest in.

The good news is that this is the first time any measures in combatting tax havens and financial secrecy have been passed in relation to the Oilfund. The bad news is that the wording is very vague, so the “expectation document” might never see the light of day.

The wording of the parliamentary resolution reads as follows:

“Parliament requests the government to ask Norges Bank to consider developing an expectations document on tax for the companies they invest in.” (Emphasis added)

We believe the Parliament’s request must lead to an expectation document covering aggressive tax planning, the use of tax havens and the use of jurisdictions and structures that enable financial secrecy, such as shell companies and trusts.

Parliament has also decided that “alternative management and business models for the Pension Fund” shall be considered. There is no reference to whether this is linked to the oil fund subsidiaries in Luxembourg and Delaware, but it clearly should be.

All in all, a small step in the right direction – but still a very long way to go before Norway can be called an ethical investor.

We would also like to commend the minority who supported additional measures, which will be important building blocks for raising the bar in the Oil fund’s approach to tax ethics in future:

  • “Parliament requests the Government to come back to Parliament with an assessment of the Fund’s operations in tax havens and how this can be restricted.” And “Parliament requests the government to ensure that unethical tax practices and tax evasion actively followed up in its owner dialogue NBIM.” (Supported by the Christian Democrats, the Central Party, The Liberals and The Socialist Left)
  • “Parliament requests the Government to ensure that NBIM move its subsidiaries away from secrecy jurisdictions” and “Parliament requests the Government to ask NBIM notify the relevant tax authorities if NBIM discovers unethical tax practices among companies in the portfolio” and “Parliament requests the Government to ensure that unethical tax practices and tax evasion are embedded in the exclusion criteria of the ethical guidelines for the Fund. ” (The Socialist Left)

See TJN Norway’s hearing letter, including links to media coverage (in Nowegian)

END

TJN update: the oil fund contains some investments that we at TJN would take a very dim view of, in light of their offshore histories. Especially HSBC, UBS and Credit Suisse.

NOKNow there’s a divestment campaign waiting to be had.  With thanks to @submergingmkt for the reminder

http://www.letemps.ch/suisse/2016/06/15/un-informaticien-mossack-fonseca-arrete-geneve?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=share&utm_campaign=article

Related Posts

UN must defend target to curtail multinational companies’ tax abuse

Photo by Luca Santori, Creative Commons LicenseThe Tax Justice Network, The Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, and the Global Alliance for Tax Justice call on the UN Secretary General to make sure the commitment to action on tax abuses by multinational companies remains part of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals.

READ MORE →

The BVI: Responsible for worldwide tax losses of $37.5 billion a year

BVI report blogAn extraordinary report by consultants Capital Economics, for BVI Finance, claims that the British Virgin Islands are responsible for $1.5 trillion of assets invested around the world, and that these result in 2.2 million jobs and $15 billion in tax revenue. A better approximation would be that the BVI imposes global tax losses of $37.5 […]

READ MORE →

Event: Making Tax Work for Women in the UK and Globally

Invitation_ Tax and Gender eventOn Wednesday 28th June 2017 at 16.30 our very own Liz Nelson will be speaking at an event in London that aims to bring together gender and tax justice advocates to highlight the need for coherent and gender-responsive fiscal policies to safeguard the rights of women and girls both in the UK and globally. The […]

READ MORE →

Historic event on women, human rights and tax justice in Bogota

BogotaLast week civil society organisations, researchers, labour union activists and policy makers met in Bogota, Colombia to explore how tax justice issues can ensure governments, multinational corporations and others meet their obligations to women in order to secure their full range of human rights. The Women’s Rights and Tax Justice conference opened with a conversation […]

READ MORE →

The Offshore Wrapper: the Panama Papers, one year on

Photos from the Protest outside PwC 1 Embankment Place, part of the Global week of action for tax justiceWelcome to the Offshore Wrapper – your weekly update from TJN.  Happy Paniversary! This week it’s been one year since the Panama Papers were leaked, and a number of organisations around the world have been marking the occasion though the global week of action for tax justice. In London, activists from the TJN and the […]

READ MORE →

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top