International Tax Review has just published an exclusive interview with the OECD’s Pascal Saint Amans concerning our new report on the proposals for a new international standard for automatic information exchange. As our report title implies, we might be approaching an historical moment in our long struggle against global tax havenry (witnessed, for example, by Luxembourg’s long overdue capitulation this week to work within the automatic information exchange process of the EU’s savings tax directive).
Our report is broadly positive about the general direction of the OECD’s work:
The OECD’s new report could be the first big step towards assembling the nuts and bolts of real change . . . there are many positive details in the (OECD) report: it is wide in its scope, covering not just individuals but trusts and foundations, and various investment entities. There is a special focus on due diligence checks, a crucial element in any transparency regime.
Yet we see weaknesses, not least in the OECD’s process, which has involved prominent tax haven players directly in the Global Forum process of consulting with developing countries on how to frame a global standard that takes account of their needs:
Yet there are a number of shortcomings in the OECD report. Some are technical, others are political. We are concerned that powerful tax haven interests have inserted themselves into positions of influence in the OECD and forthcoming Global Forum process. There is a risk that in the next months, many of the required adjustments and clarifications will be watered down. This could happen either through fierce direct financial sector lobbying efforts, or in the disguise of state representatives of captured states who defend their own financial services industry.Furthermore, the way developing country interests have been heard or taken into account is far from acceptable and once more challenges OECD’s and the Global Forum’s role in setting legitimate international tax standards.
In his response, Pascal Saint-Amans points out that an increasing number of developing countries are joining the Global Forum process, and comments: “The Global Forum will look into the particular concerns of developing countries which have a right to benefit from transparency.” He also notes that the OECD’s contacts with TJN have made it “smarter”.
The full ITR interview is available (free) here.
Our report on the OECD proposals is available here.