As governments (slowly) get to grips with the fact that tax havens are inflicting great harm on economies and democracies across the globe, facilitating mega amounts of tax dodging, and vast movements of criminal money by way of the secrecy services some of them offer, the question of our times is how we deal with them. Attempts to create tax haven blacklists (in order to potentially implement sanctions for non-cooperative jurisdictions) have so far been farcical as we’ve noted many times, most recently commenting on the European Union’s current work compiling its own blacklist system, here and here. So far the criteria for inclusion in tax haven blacklists has been weak, such lists have been ineffective and it’s been far too easy for some of the world’s worst offenders to wriggle their way out of them, or simply be big and bad enough not to worry about being included in the first place – for example – Tax Haven USA. If the EU, or anyone else really wanted to do this properly, the work’s already been done for them – with the best objective ranking available – the Tax Justice Network’s Financial Secrecy Index.
UPDATE: 15 February 2017, London – Bloomberg has reported that the chairman of the EU’s Panama Papers inquiry has criticised the UK Treasury for refusing to meet with its investigatory team during the recent fact-finding visit to London. Read more here.
Last year the Panama Papers scandal shook the world and lifted the lid on murky offshore dealings in spectacular fashion. The political consequences and investigations, criminal and otherwise are far from over. The European Parliament set up the Panama Papers inquiry committee tasked with investigating “alleged contraventions and maladministration in the application by the EU Commission or member states of EU laws on money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion.” Today Bloomberg reports that the committee begins a series of ‘secret fact-finding meetings’ in London for two days. It has come to the heart of the beast.
Coming out of the economic crisis Ireland was one of the best performing economies, with GDP growth rates of 8.5% in 2014 and an extraordinary 26.3% in 2015. But how much of this economic activity was real, and how much a fiction created by Ireland’s tax haven status? A new paper by Heike Joebges of the University of Applied Science in Berlin considers the evidence.
Over the years, we’ve chronicled the tax haven denial of many secrecy jurisdictions, even building a partial list of those who have publicly claimed “We are not a tax haven!” Now, at the prompting of tax twitter (notably Mary Cosgrove and Stephanie Johnston, with honourable mentions to Aisling Donoghue, Toby Quantrill and Richard Smith), we thought we’d have a go at crowdsourcing a more full listing.
This is being done as part of the Open Data for Tax Justice project which TJN and our partners at Open Knowledge International have set up with Omidyar Network support, to which new members are always welcome (our major focus at the moment is on the creation of a public database of country-by-country reporting – on which your views are sought).
French activists occupy a branch of BNP Paribas to protest against that bank’s deep engagement in offshore secrecy jurisdictions.