Blog Archives

Before the G20 summit – as always – corporate elites will be operating behind the scenes and colonising the political agenda

Professor Prem Sikka on the outcome of the recent G8 deliberations: 

“There is no intention to let the public know the details about ownership of companies. There is no mention of any timescale within which any reforms are to be implemented. Maybe this absence of detail is indicative of oppositions that some governments are likely to encounter from their local economic elites . . .

“The communiqué states that “Countries should change rules that let companies shift their profits across borders to avoid taxes”, but change to what? There is no commitment and no foundations have been laid for taking the matters forwards at the next G20 or the G8 meeting even though alternative models exist . . .

“The action will move to next year’s G20 summit. As always, corporate elites will be operating behind the scenes and colonising the political agenda. Any progress on eroding secrecy and tax avoidance is going to be slow, and that is a good reason for civil society to continue to campaign for change.”

Read the article here: https://theconversation.com/g8-summit-high-on-vague-promises-low-on-delivery-15351

 

ICIJ & Sachs: tax havens are not just gaps in the world’s financial system; they ARE the system!

Investigative journalism on money laundering – with names!
ICIJ header
The editor of an Indian TV station contacted PCU to say: “Truly great journalism released in April but sadly under-reported by the media in all countries. Please share widely!!”

He refers to news of the publication of the secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists naming banks, dictators, businessmen, celebrities, politicians and monarchs from 170 countries, including India, the US, Malaysia, the UK, Russia, France, Australia etc. who use havens like Singapore, British Virgin Islands, Switzerland, Cook Islands etc. to hide and launder their money.

Dozens of journalists sifted through millions of leaked records and thousands of names to produce ICIJ’s investigation into offshore secrecy ­

tax havens graphicA cache of 2.5 million files has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over. It publishes the names behind covert companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and other offshore havens.

The vast flow of offshore money — legal and illegal, personal and corporate — deprives the ‘home’ economies of revenue and impacts on other countries. The Greek fiscal disaster is said to have been exacerbated by offshore tax cheating and local banks’ assets Cyprus, inflated by waves of cash from Russia, are now in ‘meltdown’.

ICIJ’s 15-month investigation found that, alongside perfectly legal transactions, the secrecy and lax oversight offered by the offshore world allows fraud, tax dodging and political corruption to thrive. Studies have estimated that cross-border flows of global proceeds of financial crimes total between $1 trillion and $1.6 trillion a year. See video here.

Jeffrey Sachs comments in the Financial Times A-List:

jeffrey sachs“Week after week, Americans and Europeans worn down by budget austerity have learnt about the secret accounts of their politicians, tax evasion by leading companies and hot money destabilising the world economy. The darker truth is that these havens are not gaps in the world’s financial system; they are the system . . .

Jérôme Cahuzac has resigned in disgrace from his position as budget minister following the revelation that he held a secret account in Switzerland. He has since been charged with tax fraud. Spain’s ruling party has been making payments from secret Swiss accounts for years. One senior Greek politician has been sentenced to jail for falsifying financial declarations. Many more revelations will come, especially now that investigative journalists have their hands on the records of hundreds of thousands of offshore accounts.

“Groups such as Apple, Google and Starbucks have been shown in recent months to have used outlandish accounting gimmicks to shelter their profits. These include Google’s claim, approved by the US Internal Revenue Service, that its intellectual capital resides in Bermuda. There are thousands more like them working with the tax authorities to keep their money out of reach. Banks such as HSBC and UBS have been caught in the money laundering that facilitates this process”.

Recent estimates by the Tax Justice Network suggest that deposits are in the range of $21tn. The havens serve countless purposes:
  • They support massive tax evasion.
  • They underpin a global system of bribery to corrupt officials.
  • They service the accounts of drug runners, arms traders and terrorist groups.
  • They create veils of secrecy through shell companies, which allow tax evasion, land grabs and environmental destruction.

The prime movers of the world’s tax havens are the US, Switzerland and the UK. Indeed, many of the leading havens, including the British Virgin Islands, Cayman and Bermuda, are British Overseas Territories.

Professor Sachs ends by asking if these abuses will be addressed at the summits of the G8 leading nations in June and the G20 in September.

Further reading

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/74a62e9a-b0f0-11e2-9f24-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz2SDqnMlsB
http://www.icij.org/offshore/secret-files-expose-offshores-global-impact
http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/7ca55c98-9d49-11e2-88e9-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2SOTYCtLB 
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/nov/25/offshore-secrets-revealed-shadowy-side

 

Corporations and banks have bought their way into the G20

A message from AVAAZ

 

Let’s persuade G20 summit President Nicolas Sarkozy to cancel the corporate sponsorship

 

Avaaz — meaning “voice” in several European, Middle Eastern and Asian languages — was launched in 2007 with a simple democratic mission: to organize citizens of all nations to close the gap between the world we have and the world most people everywhere want.

The global economic crisis resulted in large part from the actions of reckless banks that were no longer regulated effectively by governments because of the control banks exert over our leaders. This corporate capture of government is the major threat today, both to democracy, and to an efficient and fair economy. Across the world, people are taking to the streets to take back our democracies. In the next 24 hours, let’s start with the G20.

Today Avaaz sent information about a petition which is being signed every second at the moment because the G20 is meeting to discuss the global economic crisis – a meeting sponsored by banks and corporations! 

Société Générale, a French bank that received a public bailout and has a vested interest in Europe’s financial policy, is an official sponsor of the summit. Insiders have told Avaaz that this bank and 20 other corporations have paid large sums of money in sponsorship for a seat at the table of our governments.

The site of the meeting — the French city of Cannes — is off limits to ordinary citizens, while banks and large corporate CEOs all have access passes to tell our governments what to do. Avaaz writes: 

 

“Corporations and banks have captured our governments, winning vast bailouts after helping to create the crisis. Now they are buying their way into the very meeting that could decide the world’s financial future.

“The line between corporate power and responsible government has steadily blurred, undermining our democracies and our economy. Politicians take money from corporations for their campaigns, make policies that reward them when in office, and then take high-paid jobs with them after they leave. It’s corruption, plain and simple.

“The only way to get policies that protect jobs, tackle speculators and guarantee a fair future for us all is to kick back against the lobbies and prise our leaders away from corporate interests’

“Together we can persuade summit President Nicolas Sarkozy to cancel the sponsorship – sign the petition and forward widely: http://www.avaaz.org/en/occupy_g20/?vl