Last week Christian Aid welcomed the G20′s bold pronouncements on tax havens, financial transparency and development. President Sarkozy went as far as to say that havens that didn’t comply would be excluded from the international community. A whole programme of work on tax and development was agreed.
Our scorecard compares the recommendations made, with what the G20 actually delivered. The scores that we attribute to the G20 simply evaluate their response to that expert opinion.
In 2006 the Global Forum published a review of the legal and administrative frameworks in the areas of transparency and exchange of information for tax purposes covering 82 jurisdictions, entitled Tax Co-operation: Towards a Level Playing Field – 2006 Assessment by the Global Forum on Taxation. This publication was followed by four annual assessments, with the 2010 publication covering 93 jurisdictions.
Following the restructuring of the Global Forum, a program of indepth peer reviews was launched in 2010. This 2011 Report on Progress publication describes the progress made since the Global Forum launched its peer review mechanism in 2010.
The World Bank’s private-sector entity – the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – seeks to increase tax payments to the government in developing countries through supporting their natural resource projects. This report documents that this aim can be undermined by IFCclients’ tax planning. IFC’s response is that “it is not likely to be true in almost all projects within the extractive industries”.
IFC wants to “create opportunity for people to escape poverty and improve their lives” through private-sector development in poor countries. Oil, gas and mining companies are among those receiving support from IFC. For each project IFC mentioned, the generation of revenues for government in the form of royalties and taxes” are expected as a development outcome. It estimates that authorities in developing countries received 7 billion US dollars from IFC-supported extractives projects in 2009.
In July 2010, the U.S. Congress passed Section 1504 of the Dodd-Frank Act, a measure requiring companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to publicly report how much they pay governments for access to oil, gas and minerals, country-by-country and project-by-project. The SEC is developing final rules to put the disclosure requirement into effect.
In October 2011, the European Commission issued draft directives requiring companies listed on EU stock exchanges and large private companies based in member states to disclose their payments to governments for oil, gas, minerals and timber, country-by-country and per project. After developing a final version, the European Parliament and European Council will send the measure to EU member states for implementation.
Criminals, especially drug traffickers, may have laundered around $1.6 trillion, or 2.7 per cent of global GDP, in 2009, according to a new report by UNODC. This figure is consistent with the 2 to 5 per cent range previously established by the International Monetary Fund to estimate the scale of money-laundering.
Less than 1 per cent of global illicit financial flows is currently being seized and frozen, according to the report Estimating illicit financial flows resulting from drug trafficking and other transnational organized crime. “Tracking the flows of illicit funds generated by drug trafficking and organized crime and analysing how they are laundered through the world’s financial systems remain daunting tasks,” acknowledged Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of UNODC.
Most large-scale corruption cases involve using legal entities to conceal ownership and control of corrupt proceeds, and policymakers should take steps to improve transparency to reduce opportunities for wrongdoing, according to a study released today by the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative of the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
The report, The Puppet Masters: How the Corrupt Use Legal Structures to Hide Stolen Assets and What to Do About It, examines how bribes, embezzled state assets and other criminal proceeds are being hidden via legal structures – shell companies, foundations, trusts and others. The study also provides policy makers with practical recommendations on how to step up ongoing international efforts to uncover flows of criminal funds and prevent criminals from misusing shell companies and other legal entities.
The 2011 Financial Secrecy Index (FSI) focuses on 73 secrecy jurisdictions. These places set up laws and systems which provide legal and financial secrecy to others, elsewhere.
The FSI combines two measurements, one qualitative and one quantitative. The qualitative measure looks at a jurisdiction’s laws and regulations, international treaties, and so on, to assess how secretive it is. The assessment is given in the form of a secrecy score: the higher the score, the more secretive the jurisdiction. The second, quantitative, measurement attaches a weighting to take account of the jurisdiction’s size and overall importance to the global financial markets. In combining the two scores, we mathematically emphasise the secrecy score and de-emphasise the weighting, in order to give secrecy its due importance.
International oil companies such as the U.S. giant Chevron are beginning exploration off of Liberia’s coastline. However, this new research by Global Witness and Liberian Oil and Gas Initiative (LOGI) 1 suggests that while Liberia has come a long way from the devastating set of resource-financed civil wars that claimed the lives of 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003, serious governance problems persist, and the warning signs for the emerging oil sector are stark.
This report is the first that PCS has produced on the subject of tax havens. It has prepared it for four reasons. First, PCS is committed to a fair, progressive tax system. It sees tax havens (or secrecy jurisdictions as we prefer to call them) as a threat to the establishment of such a
system. This report notes that the UK might lose up to £18 billion a year as a result of the use of tax havens. This loss contributes significantly to the overall UK tax gap that PCS believes currently amounts to at least £120 billion.
In 1999 leaders from OECD countries took a big step. They committed to holding their companies to account for their behaviour abroad. Until then, bribing abroad to win contracts had largely been tacitly accepted and was even a tax deductible expense in at least 14 OECD countries.
The global financial and economic crisis has accelerated vast transformations in the current landscape of development finance. While ODA budgets are increasingly under threat, public development finance is increasingly being used to leverage private financial resources. This is taking place at a time when the patterns in private flows are swiftly changing – including through the increasing prominence of capital flows from emerging economies, and the changing landscape in global finance in the wake of the global crisis.
The Global Corruption Report is the first comprehensive publication of its kind to explore the corruption risks related to tackling climate change. From international policy-making to national level mitigation and adaptation strategies and with a special focus on the forestry sector, the GCR draws on the expertise of more than 50 experts and practitioners from the anti-corruption movement and the climate change field.