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A year on from the Paradise Papers, the lack of progress is worrying
by ICRICT, ICIJ, Tax Justice Network, agencies
A year on from the Paradise Papers, the lack of progress is worrying. (ICRICT)
A year on from the Paradise Papers, the world has not made sufficient progress to tackle the secrecy that facilitates the hiding of wealth in tax havens. With 10% of global GDP estimated to be hidden in tax havens, and inequality rising both in developed and developing countries, the lack of progress is worrying, according to the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT).
Specifically: The failure to force all tax havens to establish public registers of beneficial ownership of companies, trusts and foundations, allows the tax haven industry to keep on flourishing.
Efforts by the EU to create a tax haven list has been mired by its own secrecy process in the way jurisdictions have been judged and the decision not to assess EU tax havens, something we hope will change soon.
The call to end corporate tax secrecy for multinationals by ensuring all multinational companies make country by country data publicly available remains unanswered.
The failure of the US to sign up to the OECD Common Reporting Standard and fully provide equivalent levels of reciprocal automatic information.
Current reforms have barely scratched the surface of the issue and the public are growing tired of weak reforms and partial answers. If countries with real political clout on the world stage continue to focus only on jurisdictions that are smaller in size, while ignoring obvious jurisdictions that ought to be part of the conversation, the result will be continued failure.
If multilateral institutions like the UN, EU and OECD are serious about tackling this problem, then it is time to discuss and coordinate a move towards the proposals supported by ICRICT such as taxing multinationals on a global basis, publishing country by country reporting data and setting a minimum global corporate tax rate.
Multinationals are groups of entities that are under single management control and have a single set of owners, and should therefore be taxed as unitary firms.
* ICRICT is a non-profit group of economists, tax experts and human rights specialists working to promote debate on reform of international corporate taxation, in the global public interest.
Paradise Papers One Year On: The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists answers questions relating to their 2017 investigation:
Paradise Papers One Year On: Make Multinationals Pay Their Share! (Global Alliance for Tax Justice)
The first week of November 2018 marks the one year anniversary of the release of the #ParadisePapers – yet another high profile tax scandal that highlighted the human impact of global tax dodging, exposing the wealthy individuals and multinational companies who dodge taxes.
Organisations from every region around the world are joining together to demand that our governments respond to #ParadisePapers by Making Multinationals Pay Their Share of Tax. The Global Days of Action provide an umbrella for diverse activities to increase public pressure on governments around the world to end large-scale corporate tax dodging:
Enablers and intermediaries. (Tax Justice Natwork)
Tax evasion and avoidance, capital flight, cross border illicit financial flows — and a wide range of abusive or illegal activities are facilitated by a global network of offshore tax havens and financial secrecy. This in turn requires a large infrastructure of intermediaries or ‘enablers’ to make the whole system function. These include:
Tax Advisers: tax attorneys and law firms, accountants, audit firms. The Big Four accounting firms play a particularly strong role here.
Financial Institutions: commercial banks, investment banks, brokerage firms, trust companies and other financial institutions. The large global private banks are particularly involved.
Corporate and trust service providers: service providers that set up, organise and/or administer corporations, limited liability companies, trusts and partnerships in tax havens or secrecy jurisdictions.
Any efforts to crack down on the problems must include a strategy to tackle the financial institutions head-on. It is notable, for example, that pretty much all of the (still limited) concessions that Switzerland has made on financial secrecy in recent years have come about as a result of pressure on Swiss banks, rather than from pressure on Switzerland itself.
It is essential to understand that these intermediaries are not just passive facilitators of illicit financial flows and other abusive activities. They are often active, and sometimes aggressive purveyors of these facilities. The large global private banks have a long and sordid history of sending teams of client relationship managers out into the field in countries rich and poor, winkling out trillions in cumulative capital flows from which they and their banks can profit.
Very often, surges in illicit financial flows from developing countries are very closely correlated with lending into those countries by those same global banks: the money is lent, looted, then spirited away offshore.
Meanwhile, large-scale abusive tax avoidance schemes by multinational corporations are usually not requested by them originally, but are pushed onto them by high-pressure sales tactics from the Big Four accountancy firms and others. (Sometimes, the banks are also involved in the sales tactics.)
Focusing on intermediaries, and particularly on the global banks, creates many opportunities for new alliances, such as between those concerned with the problem of “Too Big To Jail” and “Too Big To Fail”; and a range of others concerned with tax justice and financial transparency.
The time has come for a global alliance of civil society and other organisations to come together to campaign for large numbers of bankers and other enablers of criminal activities to be thrown into jail, and to call governments to account when they fail to do so.
http://www.taxjustice.net/topics/finance-sector/enablers-and-intermediaries/ http://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/01/business/goldman-sachs-malaysia-investment-fund.html http://www.taxjustice.net/category/blog/
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Google walkout: global protests after sexual misconduct allegations
by Guardian News
1 Nov. 2018
Thousands of Google employees from Tokyo to California stage demonstrations targeting workplace culture, by Matthew Weaver and Alex Hern in London, Victoria Bekiempis in New York, Lauren Hepler in Mountain View and Jose Fermoso in San Francisco.
Thousands of Google staff across the world have staged a series of walkouts in protest at claims of sexual harassment, gender inequality and systemic racism.
Demonstrations at the company’s offices around the world began at 11.10am in Tokyo and took place at the same time in other time zones.
They follow allegations of sexual misconduct made against senior executives, which organisers say are the most high-profile examples of “thousands” of similar cases across the company.
An image from the Singapore hub showed at least 100 staff protesting. Greater numbers appeared on the streets outside Google’s Swiss office in Zurich, and there were protests in the Israeli city of Haifa and Berlin. Google staff also walked out of the London, Dublin and New York offices.
In London, the majority of employees left their desks and occupied the main auditorium in the company’s King’s Cross office. Once the room was filled, some gathered outside, as did a separate contingent of employees from the company’s AI subsidiary, DeepMind.
“I’m here protesting against harassment in the workplace, to make sure we don’t protect or support those perpetrators of harassment,” one demonstrator told reporters. “People are supporting those who have been harassed in any workplace situation, by any employer, and this is just part of the movement.”
Employees were urged to leave a flyer at their desk that read: “I’m not at my desk because I’m walking out in solidarity with other Googlers and contractors to protest [against] sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency and a workplace culture that’s not working for everyone.”
Google walkouts across the world
The Walkout for Real Change protest comes a week after it emerged that Google gave a $90m (£70m) severance package to Andy Rubin, the creator of the Android mobile phone software, but concealed details of a sexual misconduct allegations that triggered his departure. Rubin has denied the allegations.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s chief executive, insisted that the company had taken a “hard line” over sexual misconduct and would support employees who took part in the protests.
“Employees have raised constructive ideas for how we can improve our policies and our processes going forward. We are taking in all their feedback so we can turn these ideas into action,” he said.
Campaigners have posted a list of five demands, including an end to pay and opportunity inequality as well as greater transparency about sexual harassment.
The New York Times, which broke the Rubin story, also reported allegations of sexual misconduct against a number of other Google executives. These included Richard DeVaul, a director at the Google-affiliated lab that created far-flung projects such as self-driving cars and internet-beaming balloons.
DeVaul had remained at the X lab after allegations surfaced about him a few years ago. He resigned on Tuesday without a severance package.
Pichai apologised for the company’s “past actions” in an email sent to employees this week. “I understand the anger and disappointment that many of you feel,” it said. “I feel it as well, and I am fully committed to making progress on an issue that has persisted for far too long in our society and, yes, here at Google, too.”
The email did not mention the reported incidents involving Rubin, DeVaul or anyone else but Pichai did not dispute the veracity of the New York Times story.
Google and its parent company, Alphabet, employ 94,000 people worldwide. An estimated 500 Googlers walked out of the New York office in Manhattan. Organisers said later that approximately 3,000 New York staff had taken part in the walkout. Some carrying signs with slogans such as “Workers rights are women’s rights” and “Time’s Up tech” – the latter a reference to the Time’s Up workers’ equality campaign stemming from last year’s reboot of the #MeToo movement in the US.
The mostly young workers listened to some of their co-workers address the crowd, such as Demma Rodriguez, who heads equity engineering at Google in New York.
“Enough is enough is enough!” she shouted, to cheers. “Every single person at Google is exceptional … it is absolutely disgusting that anyone thinks you can be less than exceptional, worse than that, you can be negligent about sexual assault, sexual harassment and abuse of power.”
One man said he participated in the walkout because “I have a sister, a mother.” He added: “I’m here for all the women in my life.”
Many were too nervous to talk to reporters, while some said they had been told by bosses not to or to refer the media to the company’s PR department.
Mike Clancy, the general secretary of Prospect, the UK union for technology workers, backed the protest. He said: “The events at Google highlight the frustration many workers feel about their lack of voice in how many tech companies are run. We need a zero tolerance for harassment and greater transparency over terms and conditions for staff.”
Jackie Speier, a Silicon Valley congresswoman, tweeted her support of the walkout using the #MeToo hashtag, which has become a battle cry for women fighting sexual misconduct. Speier represents a district where many Google employees live, the Associated Press reported.
In San Francisco, where approximately 2,500 employees work, hundreds gathered in front of the city’s Ferry Building. Demonstrators booed as stories of bad executive behavior were told over the megaphone, and cries went up of: “We’re fed up, we can’t take it, equal pay, right now.”
Just before lunchtime on the west coast, the wave of global protests reached Google’s corporate headquarters in the San Francisco suburb of Mountain View.
Speakers in a central courtyard were ringed by several hundred people. The crowd alternately cheered and booed as organizers read stories submitted by female employees, many anonymously. They alleged widespread sexual harassment, a pervasive gender gap in pay and at least one suspected attempted assault.
Individual speakers recounted sexual comments from superiors, and long ordeals with human resources officials who often urged silence.
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