The 2011/11/08 at 06:00
The influential Catholic NGO CCFD-Terre Solidaire has drawn up an uncompromising assessment on the ineffectiveness of international institutions to fight against tax havens. In a report published in October this year, it recommends that Heads of State from the G20 meeting on 3 and 4 November in Cannes double up their efforts. “At a time when States are confronted by abysmal budgetary deficits and citizen mobilisation towards greater tax justice, in Southern as well as North- ern Hemisphere countries, has never been stronger, the G20 seems to be stalling on the issue.
The paltry progress made in terms of transparency is today threatened by the inertia of the G20 and the recent Swiss counter-offensive to preserve its banking secrecy at any price,” worries the NGO. It is true that the declaration from the London summit has not been followed up. “The era of banking secrecy is over,” decreed the countries of the G20 in 2009, committing to take measures against uncooperative juris-dictions including tax havens.
Far from meeting their promises made in the midst of the financial crisis, the members of the G20 are now accused of eluding the issue. On top of the discretion of the French presidency of the G20 on this theme this year, the organisation observes that the ranks fighting tax havens have thinned. “The allies of 2009, namely Germany and the USA, today seem to be focusing their attention on other topics or prefer unilateral or bilateral measures,” deplores CCFD-Terre Solidaire.
The NGO points out that at the same time, “multinational companies, large banks and wealthy individuals know how to make their interests heard by most G20 leaders.” Interests in opacity that have been preserved by agreements signed by the UK and Germany with Switzerland. According to CCFD-Terre Solidaire, these agreements “bring a fatal blow to the efforts of international and European cooperation in the fight against tax havens”.
The financial stakes in the global combat for tax transparency and the lifting of banking secrecy nevertheless remain enormous. “Every year, almost 800 billion euros in illicit flows escape through these ‘black holes’ in global finance. An intolerable puncture, chiefly due to the tax evasion of multinationals that alone generate a loss in more than 125 billion euros for State treasuries”. In this context, the G20 summit may well represent the last chance to relaunch the global fight against tax havens.
Indeed, the next G20 under Mexican presidency may prove effectual on this front as “Mexico is not very committed about tax evasion and financial opacity”. CCFD-Terre Solidaire addresses three recommendations to G20 members: forcing multinationals to publish their accounts country by country, putting an end to shell companies, and reinforcing sanctions on economic and financial criminality.