Your weekly update from the TJN

THE OFFSHORE WRAPPER

Dear subscriber,

Welcome to this latest edition of the Offshore Wrapper, featuring highlights from the world of tax justice, the latest from the TJN blog and a comprehensive list of links to news stories on tax and illicit finance. 

As always do send though any tips or suggestions to george@taxjustice.net

Trust the Kiwis

Recent figures released by the New Zealand government show users and abusers of trusts abandoning the country after it implemented transparency laws to regulate the trust industry.

New Zealand trusts have built up a particularly good reputation amongst offshore service providers for their ability to hide assets. They have been called the “Fort Knox of asset protection”.

But in response to the Panama Papers the New Zealand government changed the law to compel all New Zealand foreign trusts to register (a foreign trust being a New Zealand trust where the money comes from a resident outside New Zealand), and provide details of who benefits from the trust, and who controls it.

Given that there are of course many entirely legitimate reasons why someone would want to hold an offshore, tax free trust, we would of course expect operators and beneficiaries of trusts to welcome such transparency!

Well it seems not. Recent data revealed in response to parliamentary questions from New Zealand's Green Party shows that weeks ahead of the deadline to register trusts, most trusts have failed to register and many have abandoned New Zealand. In total, out of more than 11,500 foreign trusts in New Zealand, fewer than 70 had signed up to the new register three weeks before the deadline for doing so.

This of course strongly suggests that many of the people using New Zealand trusts were doing so to hide their money. From whom? We don’t know, and perhaps never will.

Missing Minerals in Tanzania

TZ Business has this fascinating story of how the country’s minerals agency has failed to tackle widespread fraud and tax evasion in the extractives industry. The report outlines a number of issues which seeks to get at why the country is losing billions of dollars a year in revenues from this vital industry.

Pressure for reform has come right from the top, with President Mangufuli himself making a surprise raid on the port of Dar-Es-Salaam to inspect containers of minerals destined for export. During his cameo role as a customs officer the President discovered vast under reporting of export values in an attempt to evade taxes.

Renewed calls for a global tax body

India, Ecuador and South Africa have made renewed calls  for the the United Nations Secretary General to form an intergovernmental institution under the UN take action to tackle tax havens.

Representatives of the three nations got together in an informal workshop on the issue during a meeting of the UN, where the Ecuadorian Foreign Minister said that one third of his country’s GDP was hidden away in tax havens.

There have been a number of attempts to push for an intergovernmental tax body over the last few years, but all have met with opposition from countries like the US, which is seeking to protect the role of the OECD, a group of wealthy nations that have dominated tax policy development.

Maltese back Muscat in the Panama Papers election

Malta recently held a snap election which returned Prime Minister Joseph Muscat to power. The election was called after allegations surfaced that Muscat’s wife owned a company named in the Panama Papers, proving that in a democracy, some politicians can do practically anything and people will still vote for them.

But despite Muscat gaining the backing of the majority of the electorate in tax haven Malta, members of the European Parliament were determined to give him less of an easy ride when he visited last week. A number of MEPs raised Malta’s status as a tax haven. Others questioned why he had reappointed a minister that was named in the Panama Papers.

However, having won the popular backing of his country, it seems unlikely that the Maltese Prime Minister will be changing his ways anytime soon.

Public country by country reporting moves a step closer to reality

Staying on European issues, two important committees of the European Parliament held a vote last week on new rules to compel large multinationals to publish country by country reports on where they make their profits and pay their taxes.

The votes passed the committee stage paving the way for this important transparency reform. But the passage of the new legislation has not all been plain sailing. At the last minute members of the Conservative and Liberal groupings of the European Parliament voted for an amendment which would potentially allow companies to withhold some information on the basis of commercial confidentiality.

The legislation now goes to the full session of Parliament where there will be some intense lobbying by NGOs to remove the loophole.

The latest from the TJN Blog

Our June 2017 Spanish language Podcast: Justicia ImPositiva, nuestro podcast de junio 2017

Welcome to this month’s latest podcast and radio programme in Spanish with Marcelo Justo and Marta NuĂąez, downloaded and broadcast on radio networks across Latin America and Spain. ÂĄBienvenidos y bienvenidas a nuestro podcast y programa radiofĂłnica! (abajo en castellano). In this month’s programme: • What are tax havens? Everything you ever wanted to know […] The post Our June 2017 Spanish language Podcast: Justicia ImPositiva, nuestro podcast de junio 2017 appeared first on ...

Read more
2017-06-15

The 3rd International Conference on Beneficial Ownership Registries, Argentina

The 3rd International Conference on Beneficial Ownership Registries will take place in Buenos Aires on June 21st-22nd at Argentina’s Central Bank.  It is co-hosted by TJN with Fundacion SES, Argentina’s AML Prosecutor (PROCELAC), the Anti-Corruption Agency and Security Ministry. We blogged about this event last year here and we’ll report back to you once again this […] The post The 3rd International Conference on Beneficial Ownership Registries, Argentina appeared ...

Read more
2017-06-13

EU Parliament multinational transparency vote introduces ‘commercial confidentiality’ loophole

Yesterday the European Parliament held a crucial tax justice vote on making multinational companies with an annual net turnover of 750 million euros and above publicly report their activities, structures and tax payments on a country-by-country basis. That would mean no more secrecy around those things that affect the welfare of you, me and the […] The post EU Parliament multinational transparency vote introduces ‘commercial confidentiality’ loophole appeared first on Tax ...

Read more
2017-06-13

UK coalition government driven by corporation tax cutters

The minority UK government elected last week is scrambling to agree a ‘confidence and supply’ agreement with a tiny party from Northern Ireland called the DUP (originally the Democratic Unionist Party).  The DUP has attracted considerable attention in the past 24 hours because of its Protestant fundamentalist religious values and general social conservatism.  TJN would […] The post UK coalition government driven by corporation tax cutters appeared first on Tax Justice Network.

Read more
2017-06-12

Tax justice news from around the web

Image used under the creative commons license - image by Binuri Ranasinghe

Links Jun 16

Tax transparency and the end of transfer pricing: A few quick thoughts on where things stand in the battle for fair taxation of multinationals - by TJN's Chief Executive @alexcobham   

Transparency on beneficial ownership is essential for good governance and reforms Open Government Partnership   

Swiss banks lobby for get-out clause as end of bank secrecy nears Reuters
See our report "The end of bank secrecy”? Bridging the gap to effective automatic information exchange, see also our recent blog: Switzerland and information exchange: tweak, tweak and something will always remain   

The Great Tax Robbery: How bankers, consultants, and lawyers have been plundering the German state for decades. And who tracked them down and exposed them. Zeit Onlin

A fire in the world's laundromat Open Democracy

Malta / Money Laundering: Fair and thorough investigation urgently needed Sven Giegold

Tax evaders exposed: why the super-rich are even richer than we thought The Guardian

India - First Panama Papers seizure: Top Delhi jeweller’s deposits The Indian Express

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif appears before Panama Papers probe panelThe Hindu

Japanese named in Panama Papers owe 1 billion yen in tax on hidden income The Mainichi

Tanzania: Chronicle of Suspected Plunder and Corruption in Energy and Minerals Ministry: An Inside Story Business News
'Recent press reports said Tanzania lost a staggering Tsh. 7.2trn/- ( about $2.13billion) in 2016 as a result of some extraordinary tax holiday and loopholes in the mining sector.'

Bangladesh: E-commerce would promote illicit flow of information & asset by MNCs from LDCs Newsflash 24bd

Why are Tax Haven Users Getting Govt Contracts? Canadians for Tax Fairness

Canada's voluntary disclosure programme to be restricted STEP

Hundreds of mining, oil and gas companies reveal payments to governments for the first time, in Canada and around the world Publish What You Pay Canada

Why Kenya’s super-rich stay invisible Business Daily

Foreign investors snapping up London homes suitable for first-time buyers The Guardian
'... and being held in off-shore tax havens'

U.S. acts to seize stolen assets, Picasso in probe of Malaysian fund Reuters

Former Julius Baer banker pleads guilty in U.S. FIFA corruption probe Reuters

Links Jun 13

Africa: Global South Calls for International Body to Fight Tax Havens Uncova

Uganda: Civil Society challenges Harmful Tax Holidays Global Alliance for Tax Justice

Participants sign declaration on Good Financial Governance to fight illicit financial flows from Africa Ghana Business Network

Africa’s central banks team up with AfDB to fight illicit capital flows Public Finance International

EU forges ahead with adviser sanctions over tax avoidance International Adviser

Germany fears huge losses in massive tax scandal BBC News

How 15,080 Profitable Indian Companies Paid No Tax in 2015-16 India Spend

Microsoft New Zealand re-homed in Bermuda after heat turned on Luxembourg Stuff

Luxembourg signs OECD tax agreement but adds 70 pages of restrictions Luxemburger Wort
Read about the history of Luxembourg as a tax haven here.

Canada's weak laws hobble identification of tax dodgers: document CBC

Ukraine’s Top Bank Lent Owner’s Lieutenants $1 Billion Before Nationalization OCCRP

Declare offshore wealth? Russia tycoons would rather ship themselves off shore Reuters

Spain urged to restore 'Beckham' tax law for footballers International Adviser

Silk Road hub or tax haven? China's new border trade zone may be less than it seems Reuters

Rolling Stones, U2 are in NL for local expertise, not to avoid tax, inquiry told DutchNews

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