Responding to the latest Paradise Papers revelations about companies including Apple and Nike, which also highlight the central role of British crown dependencies and overseas territories in global tax avoidance, Rebecca Gowland, Oxfam’s Head of Inequality, said:
"What is striking about these revelations is just how central British crown dependencies and overseas territories are to the activities detailed in the Paradise Papers. This central position in the murky world of tax havens puts Britain in an ideal position to clean things up. To help end tax secrecy, the Government should act now to ensure that UK-linked tax havens publish information about company ownership and implement public country by country reporting for big companies with a presence in the UK.
“Corporations such as Apple, Nike and Glencore spend millions lobbying governments to water down tax reforms. The 50 biggest US companies, including Apple, spent an estimated $352 million lobbying on tax issues in the country between 2009 and 2015 while receiving over $423 billion in tax breaks.  For every $1 they spent lobbying on tax issues they received an estimated $1200 in tax breaks.”
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Last week Oxfam revealed that a third of the $100bn [approx. £78bn] tax that companies dodge in poor countries annually is enough to cover the bill for essential healthcare that could prevent the needless deaths of eight million mothers, babies and children - and launched a hard-hitting film illustrating the human cost of tax avoidance on the world's poorest - 'The Heist That No One is Talking About' - to build public support for reform. 
Bermuda topped Oxfam's list of the world's 15 worst corporate tax havens, published last year, which also named three other UK-linked territories – Jersey, the Caymans Islands and the British Virgin Islands. https://www.oxfam.org.uk/media-centre/press-releases/2016/12/bermuda-named-worlds-worst-tax-haven
Between 2009 and 2015 Apple spent over $19 million lobbying the US government on a range of issues including tax and was a member of a number of groups lobbying on tax including R&D Credit Coalition, WIN America Campaign (disbanded 2012), and the Retail Industry Leaders Association. The company received an estimated $26 billion in tax breaks over this same period. For more details see Oxfam’s report: ‘Rigged Reform’: https://www.oxfamamerica.org/press/top-50-us-companies-stash-16-trillion-offshore/
New leaks have exposed how some of the world’s most prominent public figures, including the Queen and a key Trump associate, are involved in a global secrecy scandal of offshore accounts and hidden financial dealings.

The Paradise Papers are also laying bare the secrets of many of the world’s biggest companies – starting yesterday with revelations about London-listed commodities giant Glencore and its dealings in Democratic Republic of Congo.

We’ve been investigating Glencore since 2012 over suspect payments made to Dan Gertler, a billionaire mining magnate and close friend of Congo’s president who has been linked to numerous bribery scandals.  

Yesterday’s leaks show that Gertler personally negotiated mining licences in favour of Katanga Mining, a company Glencore was in the process of taking over. As a reward, Glencore provided him with tens of millions of dollars in loans and options, paid through secretive offshore companies.

Glencore and Gertler have denied any wrongdoing in their Congo deals, but this new evidence suggests Glencore’s relationship with Gertler goes much further than previously acknowledged, and raises concerns over possible bribery.

Why does this matter? Because Congo is losing out on billions that could be spent on public services through secretive sales of underpriced but hugely valuable copper mines via offshore companies. 

We’re calling on the UK’s Serious Fraud Office to investigate. Watch this video – and then share on Facebook or Twitter to support our call for action. 
Glencore video placeholder
Paradise Lost.

Paradise Lost.

Image by Dev WR

Glencore aren’t the only ones using secret companies registered in tax havens to hide what they’re really doing.

As more stories emerge throughout this week we’ll be providing expert insights into the issues and on what

can be done to end the secrecy that enables corruption.   

See this page for live updates or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.



Transparency International: 

Financial regulators and governments must act to stop corruption in the financial system

The ‘Paradise Papers’ revelations published on 5 November by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its partners show how the rich and powerful around the world are able to hide wealth through complex and opaque financial structures which allow them to keep their business dealings secret. These secret structures can also be used by the corrupt.

Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International said:

“The high-profile list of people and corporations in this latest scandal is shocking. Clearly financial oversight authorities and lawmakers must realise the system is broken. Complex, cross-border structures are being used to facilitate a wide range of secret activity, which could include corruption, fraud and abusive tax schemes.

“Too many people are finding ways to hide wealth. If that wealth is from the proceeds of corruption it means criminals are being given the means to live off ill-gotten gains. Too often money that should go to improve the lives of ordinary people is siphoned off by corrupt officials and then used to fund luxury lifestyles. This must be stopped.”

The full impact of the Paradise Papers will only become clear in the coming days, weeks and months. ICIJ’s media partners plan to publish more stories on a daily basis this week, while legal analysis will no doubt unfold for far longer still.

Transparency International is calling for stricter measures to regulate the financial sector and their participants, including real estate brokers, lawyers and bankers.

Beneficial ownership transparency

All countries should have central, public registers of the real owners of companies, as well as registers containing information on all parties to trusts. Governments should require any company bidding for a public contract or purchasing and selling property to publicly disclose its beneficial ownership information.

Anti-money laundering measures

Law firms and intermediaries who set up offshore companies and trusts should know their clients and report suspicious activities to authorities. They should not routinely offer layers of secrecy to their clients.

When facilitators fail to meet their obligations, authorities should impose appropriate sanctions, from fines and de-licensing of companies to prosecution of individuals.

Luxury goods and real estate

There must be special due diligence requirements that are enforced by the vendors of luxury items, including property in centres like London and New York, to ensure that the money used for purchases is not the proceeds of corruption. 

In the wake of the Panama Papers last year, at least 150 inquiries, audits or investigations have been announced in 79 countries and governments are investigating more than 6,500 taxpayers and companies.

The Paradise Papers must not only lead to investigations but should show how important it is to end secrecy in the financial system.

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