The recent global tax scandal, revealed on Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (known as the “ICIJ”), once again points up the weaknesses of a European policy approach. This was found by several NGOs (non-governmental organisations), reacting to the “Paradise Papers.” The NGO, Transparency International, observes that the legislation proposed by the European Commission, to make public information about offshore companies, has still not been approved by member states. This is despite the initial Panama Papers revelations last year.
The European branch of the NGO, Oxfam, says, “The Paradise Papers expose weak political attempts to end tax fraud.” Susana Ruiz Rodriguez, who is the Regional Tax Coordinator for the Oxfam, says “The harsh words exchanged around such policies have been transformed into weak policies, given the pressure from both large companies and the super-rich.”
She says that political leaders must work together to establish a global blacklist of tax havens and put an end to banking secrecy.
Transparency International stresses the importance of working at the European level. The Director of the NGO’s European office, Carl Dolan, laments, “European governments, such as Germany, have objected to the tide of financial transparency.” He recalls that after the first Panama Papers tax scandal, the European Commission took action “but the national governments still have to sign two European proposals which may assist in highlighting this type of money laundering, tax evasion and tax avoidance.”
Global Witness also laments the “grey” areas remaining concerning the stricter European rules. The organisation argues that members should all agree during the next round of negotiations “that the actual owners of all relevant offshore funds and companies should be made public in Europe.” The President, Rachel Owens, is highly critical saying, “Over the past year they [the EU member states] have done nothing other than bring to a standstill adjustments to the system, which would have enabled us to resolve the problem. By doing nothing, they are also accomplices in a corrupt system.”
In the most recent investigation by the ICIJ, journalists from Le Soir, De Tijd and Knack, detected more than 500 relevant names relating to Belgium. They will expose what they have discovered during this week.