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New research on key role major economies play in global tax avoidance

An important new study on Offshore Financial Centres (OFCs) from the University of Amsterdam has made some fascinating discoveries, challenging, as the Financial Secrecy Index has, the popular misconception that tax havens are only palm fringed little islands and exposing that in fact major economies play a key role in global tax avoidance. Specifically they’ve mined data that highlights the central role of ‘conduit’ and ‘sink’ havens. Enter stage right the United Kingdom and the Netherlands…

In ‘Uncovering Offshore Financial Centers: Conduits and Sinks in the Global Corporate Ownership Network’ economists and computer scientists in the CORPNET research group have used:

“a data-driven method based on network analysis to identify OFCs. Our data covers over 77 million ownership relations, which together form a large network in which value flows from subsidiaries to shareholders. From it we extract millions of global corporate ownership chains (see Figure 2). The resulting fine-grained insight allows us to not only see where value originates and ends up, but also exactly where it originated. This allows us to identify two types of OFCs: 

  • Sink-OFC: a jurisdiction in which a disproportional amount of value disappears from the economic system.
  • Conduit-OFC: a jurisdiction through which a disproportional amount of value moves toward sink-OFCs.”

RB tax avoidance – company calls for public country by country reporting after Oxfam report reveals profit shifting

Oxfam has today released a report on tax dodging by RB, the company formerly known as Reckitt Benckiser and the maker of thousands of well known household products.

The report looks at the 2012 restructuring of the company which saw it set up ‘hubs’ in the Netherlands, Dubai and Singapore, all well known corporate tax havens, and demonstrates the continuing power of the corporate expose as a mechanism for encouraging companies to change their ways. As a result of Oxfam’s work, RB itself is now calling on governments around the world to legislate to compel all multinationals to be transparent about the tax they pay though country by country reporting of key financial data.

Will the G20 ever end the global problem of tax avoidance and tax evasion?

Ahead of the G20 Summit in Hamburg this week our own George Turner has published this op-ed in the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung today. The article discusses why, despite sustained political engagement from world leaders, we are still some way from solving the problem of tax avoidance and tax evasion. Here’s an English translation of the article:

Whistleblower Ruedi Elmer vs. the Swiss ‘Justice’ System

June 2, 2017   Blog, Tax Havens, Tax Havens

We’ve regularly covered the battles of whistleblower Rudolf Elmer against the Swiss “justice” system. As we’ve said before, and as has so often been the case with those brave enough to risk all to challenge injustice and corruption, the bank was the criminal, not Rudolf Elmer. He wrote a guest blog for us here on how Switzerland corrupted its courts to nail him. We’d like to bring you up to date on his heroic struggles.

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Forthcoming book: Tax Havens and International Human Rights Law

May 8, 2017   Blog, Human Rights, Tax Havens

yTax havens cause enormous damage, not least because they block governments from fulfilling their human rights obligations.  When rich people and powerful businesses evade paying taxes by using offshore tax havens they deprive states of the revenues they need to deliver on their commitments to provide education, health, justice and security.  In this forthcoming book, Isle of Man-based lawyer Paul Beckett takes a human rights-based approach to the uses of tax havens and considers how the governments of tax havens actively connive with the process of breaching human rights. 

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