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FTC Members Call On G20 Finance Ministers to Act in Sydney Morning Herald Op-Ed

September 18th, 2014

In an opinion piece that ran in the Sydney Morning Herald, Alvin Mosioma of the Tax Justice Network – Africa, Subrat Das of the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, and Oriana Suarez of the Latin American Network on Debt, Development, and Rights called on the G20 Finance Ministers to act on a number of vital financial transparency issues. The ministers will meet this weekend in Australia, ahead of November’s Leaders Summit.

The article focused on the need to address all aspects of financial transparency, including beneficial ownership, automatic information exchange, and public country-by-country reporting.

From the piece:

One agenda point that should feature prominently when finance ministers sit down this weekend is the creation of public registers of beneficial ownership. These registers, which should be open and freely accessible, would hold information on who is ultimately profiting from or controlling a company.

In many places, it’s easier to open an anonymous company than it is to get a driver’s licence; often, you don’t even need to provide your name. This secrecy fuels the very illicit flows that are hindering growth in developed and developing countries, alike. Even countries enjoying economic growth are simultaneously losing billions of dollars every year. And some of the most egregious cases are found in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

However, along with beneficial ownership, they also argued that public country-by-country reporting needs to be addressed.

At a first glance, public country-by-country reporting shouldn’t even be controversial. After all, a recent survey carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers showed that 59 per cent of CEOs around the world actually support making that information public. Public reporting would help authorities, journalists, and civil society target corporations that are unfairly shifting profits into tax haven subsidiaries to evade taxes. Hockey has already used bold words to describe such arrangements, but now it’s time for bold action to match.

This comes on the heels of recommendations delivered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that call on many aspects of country-by-country reporting to remain confidential. The authors additionally highlighted aspects of the planned automatic information exchange standard that may cause some developing countries to be excluded. The cross-border system would allow countries to share financial information to help authorities track down individuals and companies hiding assets in other jurisdictions to avoid taxes.

A German-language version of the opinion piece was featured in Handelsblatt, a leading economic newspaper in Germany, and a French-language version will run tomorrow in Les Echos.

You can read the full article in the Sydney Morning Herald here.

 

Written by Christian Freymeyer

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