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Tackling tax dodging. Or not.

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tackling tax dodging, tax evasion, Oversees Territories, European Union, Global WitnessThat’s one trillion euros not spent on schools, hospitals and other vital public services.

The European Commission announced new proposals to tackle tax dodging by multinational corporations recently, including public country-by-country reporting and a common list of tax havens – proposals contained in a Labour report approved by MEPs last year.

“The recent Panama Papers revealed tax avoidance on an enormous scale, with an estimated 1 trillion Euro loss in public finances – that’s one trillion euros not spent on schools, hospitals and other vital public services, one trillion euros the global super-rich have robbed from the taxpaying public,” East Midlands MEP Glenis Willmott said.

“By making companies publicly declare where they make their profits and where they pay their tax, we can force them into playing by the rules throughout Europe.

“And the new list of tax havens, which will be based on objective criteria, will ensure greater transparency – all activity in places like Panama will need to be disclosed.”

“This announcement is another excellent example of the EU showing its value and an amazing step forward in the fight against tax avoidance and evasion,” Willmott, who is Leader of the Labour Party in Europe, added.

“I hope that following the release of the Panama Papers, Conservative MEPs take a long look at themselves after voting down every one of these Labour proposals in the European Parliament last year.

“The Tories have a lot to answer for after repeatedly blocking attempts to crack down on tax avoidance and evasion in Europe.”

The Independent listed the MEPs who voted against the proposals on 25 March this year: Conservatives, UKIP and the DUP’s Diane Dodds.

The Panama Papers have also revealed the role that UK-linked tax havens, such as the British Virgin Islands, play in facilitating corruption and money laundering.

According to Global Witness, over half of the anonymously-owned companies listed in the Panama Papers were set up in the UK’s tax havens, or “Overseas Territories”.

The UK has the power to address one of the root causes of offshore secrecy by requiring the Overseas Territories to create public registers of the real owners of companies registered there, as happens in UK.

This would make it much harder for the world’s criminal and corrupt to hide their money there, and mark a huge step towards the global standard of transparency that UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said he wants to see.

Cameron has said that he want to see the Overseas Territories create full public registries of company owners, but so far, Global Witness reports, they have only agreed to set up private registries which are accessible to UK law enforcement authorities.

Given the scale of the criminality revealed by the Panama Papers and previous work by Global Witness, UK law enforcement won’t have the resources to stem the tide of suspect funds.

To deter those with something to hide, this information needs to be available to a much wider pool of people, including civil society, journalists and the public.

“If we want to break our links to terror financing, dodgy dictators and other criminals we have to address the role the UK’s Overseas Territories play by creating public registries of company owners, like we’re getting in the UK,” Chido Dunn, of Global Witness, said.

“The measures announced so far, such as private registers, won’t cut it.

“As things stand it will be a question of when, not if, the next great corruption scandal hits the UK tax havens.”

  1. K Badlan says:

    Hope link works.Basically the UK Parliamentary body set up to scrutinise the behaviour of public figures is failing to do its duty. Not good enough.

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