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FTC high-level event: Uncovering Offshore Funds – Opportunities to Advance Human Rights

June 7th, 2022

In collaboration with Millionaires for Humanity, The Financial Transparency Coalition (FTC) organized a fascinating high-level event on June 2nd, 2022.

This event covered wealth taxes and the measures global South countries are taking to tackle billions of dollars hidden in offshore tax havens and whether they can succeed amid a global food and energy crisis.

Panelists included Professor Attiya Waris, UN Independent Expert on external debt, other financial obligations, and human rights; Djaffar Shalchi, founder of Human Act Foundation with its initiative Millionaires for Humanity; Ricardo Martner, Commissioner at ICRICT and Itai Hagman, member of Argentina’s Chamber of Deputies. The event was moderated by Eryn Schornick, Strategic Advisor.

The panel discussion, which can be viewed in its entirety here, analyzed the Covid-19 crisis and the worsening inequality made worse by the global food and energy crisis, which is expected to push 263 million people into extreme poverty in 2022, which compares with 573 more billionaires in the world by March 2022 from the start of the pandemic.

Here are some of the highlights from the panelists, including key quotes and discussions during their presentations:

Professor Attiya Waris

UN INDEPENDENT EXPERT ON EXTERNAL DEBT, OTHER FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS, AND HUMAN RIGHTS

“Rights require resources. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking at the right to vote in a country or the ability to access a fair trial or even whether you could put food on the table. All of these are rights and all of them cost money. Therefore, the problem becomes what happens when a country or a community, or an individual doesn’t have these financial resources. What happens is they go through a series of situations more and more desperate until they reach a point where they cannot survive, and it does link to the right to life.”

“What do we need to do about global finances to make sure that these situations that are so dire don’t happen? In my perspective illicit financial flows and the inability or unwillingness of states and international organizations to grasp onto these resources, control them to a certain extent, and then tax them where they are taxable means that that particular nation or region is unable to collect the resources that it has designed the system to collect. Meaning they cannot spend the money to improve living conditions. Countries then resort to pulling and taking on more debt to fill in the gap. Sometimes it is domestic debt sometimes it is a public creditor sometimes it is a private creditor. All of these have power implications, and it is this power that results in so many far-reaching consequences.”

Djaffar Shalchi 

FOUNDER OF HUMAN ACT FOUNDATION WITH ITS INITIATIVE MILLIONAIRES FOR HUMANITY

“We need to talk about the solutions, and we, billionaires are part of the solution. We can and need to push governments for a wealth tax. Unfortunately, there is huge pressure through lobby behind decision-makers to block these tax measures.”

“The vast majority of the population around 70% in various countries support wealth taxes, but politicians are not implementing them despite being an obvious way to tackle wealth inequality.”

Ricardo Martner

COMMISSIONER AT ICRICT

“Solutions should begin at home. That is the link between the global and national. We have the capacity to generate a greater ability to keep records of what the great invaders are actually doing. We have the ability to make info transparent and accessible and that involves having tools so tax systems can be more fair.” 

“It is important to generate the capacity to tax those that we refer to as the ‘super rich’ which is not the same as taxing. And that’s the challenge. We need a global registry. If we are not coordinated throughout the planet, we will lose a lot of currency. The world also needs to define what tax havens are very well because there are countries that are about to become this.”

Itai Hagman

MEMBER CHAMBER OF DEPUTIES, ARGENTINA

“We need to solve this without having it be a burden on the workers. It is a problem of justice and democratic reparation. In the same way that during the pandemic there was a contribution of the greater taxpayers required to aid countries worldwide.”

“The capital flight from Argentina is greater than the loan that the IMF made to Argentina, so the money to pay this debt is sitting in tax havens outside of the country, the top 10% of people account for 93% of capital flight…. The issue of financial exit and exit of financial flows is the issue of excessive concentration of wealth. So, in our country, in particular, Argentina has seen an intense capital drain in recent years in many cases the drain goes towards tax havens which don’t allow our economy to invest these resources in sustaining our own economic development.” 

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