EU to re­lease black list for tax havens

● 92 coun­tries in­ves­ti­gated

Malta Independent - - NEWS - Ju­lian Bon­nici in Stras­bourg

A black list for tax havens and non-co­op­er­a­tive ju­ris­dic­tions is be­ing com­plied by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, Euro­pean Com­mis­sioner for Eco­nomic and Fi­nan­cial Af­fairs, Tax­a­tion and Cus­toms Pierre Moscovici re­vealed yes­ter­day, dur­ing the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment de­bate de­bate fol­low­ing the Par­adise Pa­pers scan­dal.

Moscovici ex­plained that there have been a to­tal of 92 coun­tries that have been looked into by the com­mis­sion, some of which have al­ready com­mit­ted to re­form, and it is be­lieved that the list will be re­leased on 5 De­cem­ber fol­low­ing an ECOFIN meet­ing.

The leak refers to the global in­ves­ti­ga­tion that re­vealed the off­shore off­shore ac­tiv­i­ties of some of the world’s most pow­er­ful peo­ple and com­pa­nies af­ter shar­ing some 13.4 mil­lion files from off­shore law firms and the com­pany reg­istries in some of the world’s most se­cre­tive coun­tries, in­clud­ing Malta, with 95 me­dia part­ners.

The Par­adise Pa­pers re­vealed off­shore in­ter­ests and ac­tiv­i­ties of more than 120 politi­cians and world lead­ers, in­clud­ing Queen El­iz­a­beth II whose pri­vate es­tate in­di­rectly in­vested in a rent-to-own loan com­pany ac­cused of preda­tory tac­tics

“I am ex­tremely con­cerned about the Par­adise Pa­pers, not only be­cause there is a clearly a global cir­cuit and sys­tem of ag­gres­sive tax planning, but be­cause it ap­pears that many of these seem com­pletely le­gal, we need com­pre­hen­sive re­form, we need spe­cific and con­crete com­mit­ments with gen­uine sub­stance,” Moscovici said.

The com­mis­sion will also be tabling leg­is­la­tion to en­sure that tax in­for­ma­tion on a coun­try by coun­try ba­sis will be avail­able to the pub­lic.

Moscovici also pointed to amend­ments in the Money Laun­der­ing di­rec­tive to look at more opaque struc­tures, as a po­ten­tial rem­edy to the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. “This is a ques­tion of po­lit­i­cal will. We can­not be guilty by omis­sion.”

Moscovici was roundly crit­i­cised by par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, specif­i­cally Lam­pros Foun­toulis, con­cern­ing the per­ceived hypocrisy of the com­mis­sion, when its Pres­i­dent, Jean Claude Juncker, turned Lux­em­bourg into a ma­jor Euro­pean cen­tre of cor­po­rate tax avoid­ance; while also con­tin­u­ing to de­fend the county’s tax sys­tem in Euro­pean Fora.

This was echoed by other par­lia­men­tar­i­ans, with Marco Valli lam­bast­ing Juncker for fail­ing to “show his face at this de­bate.”

Malta, the Netherlands, Lux­em­bourg, the Bri­tish isle of Jer­sey, were crit­i­cised by a num­ber of MEPs, who they said these were tax havens ex­ist­ing with the EU’s bor­ders.

“Politi­cians have once again been im­pli­cated. Those who preached against tax eva­sion and avoid­ance are in it up to their necks. How long will we ac­cept tax havens, who also have a seat on the Coun­cil, in the EU?” Miguel Ur­ban Cre­spo asked par­lia­ment.

Luděk Nie­der­mayer, speak­ing on be­half of the Euro­pean Peo­ple’s Party (Chris­tian Democrats), said that tax havens in the EU are able to flour­ish be­cause Fi­nance Min­is­ters refuse to act and called on them to use their power and re­spon­si­bil­ity to change the sit­u­a­tion.”Stop us­ing cheap ex­cuses and hid­ing be­hind anonymity rules.”

He said the struc­tures un­cov­ered in leaks such as the Par­adise Pa­pers, Panama Pa­pers, Luxleaks, etc; only serve to harm the econ­omy, com­pe­ti­tion, fis­cal pol­icy; and as a re­sult ul­ti­mately ef­fect the ci­ti­zen.

“Peo­ple are los­ing faith. We need sim­pler and clearer tax rules, and to con­vince oth­ers to do the same,” he said point­ing to the EU’s global po­si­tion to dic­tate the agenda.

Leader of the Progressive Al­liance of So­cial­ists and Democrats, Gianni Pitella re­it­er­ated the sen­ti­ment that cit­i­zens are the real vic­tims of tax avoid­ance and eva­sion. “In a time when states are em­ploy­ing aus­ter­ity; multi­na­tional com­pa­nies, wealthy in­di­vid­u­als, are avoid­ing mil­lions in tax.”

Bernd Lucke, from the Euro­pean Con­ser­va­tives and Re­formists group, along with many other MEPs, also posed se­ri­ous ques­tions to par­lia­ment and the EU in gen­eral, specif­i­cally why it was only jour­nal­ists who re­vealed the leaks; and in­sisted that it should be on the in­sti­tu­tions who re­veal these struc­tures.

Petr Jezek from the Al­liance of Liberals and Democrats called for more ef­fi­cient sanc­tions against banks and in­ter­me­di­aries in­volved in tax or money laun­der­ing schemes.

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