Experts convene in the City of London to call out ‘pin stripe mafia enablers of tax abuse’
Researchers and campaigners from around the world have been presenting radical solutions on tackling tax abuse and financial crime at the Tax Justice Network’s annual conference held in the heart of London’s finance centre, on 2 – 3 July 2019. With over 200 attendees including prominent politicians, whistleblowers and economists, the conference is calling attention to the industry of lawyers, accountants and bankers that sell tax avoidance schemes to clients.
According to the Corporate Tax Haven Index published by the Tax Justice Network (TJN) last month, the UK – which outsources much of its corporate tax havenry to its Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories – is responsible for over a third of all corporate tax avoidance risks in the world.
Cutting-edge research is being presented at the conference in the City of London – which serves as the centre of the UK’s corporate tax haven network, and to which British-controlled jurisdictions like British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda are umbilically connected. The growth of the City of London, and the sapping impact the finance sector has had on other industries is estimated to have cost the UK economy £4.5tn in lost economic growth between 1995 and 2015 – to say nothing of the losses imposed on the rest of the world.
Alex Cobham, chief executive of the Tax Justice Network, said: “Some $500 billion in tax is dodged every year by multinational corporations, and a further $200 billion is lost to tax evasion via offshore assets. Those losses are borne disproportionately by people on lower incomes and by poorer countries – but some lawyers, accountants and bankers make a pretty penny off their backs.
“Politicians, researchers and campaigners from around the world have come together to share their ideas on how we use tax to build a fairer world – and they’ve come here to the City of London, what has been dubbed the home of the ‘pinstripe mafia’, to say it. To tackle rampant tax abuse costing our societies billions every year, we have to take on its pedlars.”
On the first day of the conference the Anderson-Lucas-Norman award for tax justice heroism was awarded by TJN to Ms Eva Joly MEP, a former investigative judge with a renowned track record in fighting corrupt activities and financial crime at the highest echelons of business and politics. Ms Joly’s most well-known case is her investigation of the financial scandal of the French state-owned petroleum company Elf Aquitaine, which was described by the Guardian as “the biggest fraud inquiry in Europe since the Second World War”. In the face of death threats, Ms Joly’s work led to the conviction of persons involved in the oil business.
The award for tax justice heroism is named after Jean Anderson, Pat Lucas and Frank Norman – three Jersey islanders who were among the first to challenge tax havenry in Jersey and inspired former Jersey senior economic advisor turned activist John Christensen to establish the Tax Justice Network.
Eva Joly, now Vice-President of the European Parliament’s special committee on tax fraud, said: “Fighting for tax justice is key if we want to preserve our democracies and our planet. Tax evasion increases inequalities around the world and fuels populists who exploit feelings of injustice and mistrust. Tax havens also contribute to the degradation of the environment, as they are a shelter for dirty money coming for example from illegal fishing or logging. When you follow the money of tax cheaters, you discover why the world is in such a bad shape. We need more transparency and justice.
“I am so grateful to the work undertaken by the Tax Justice Network and all those experts and activists who shed the light on current practices and contribute to bring changes. Together with investigative journalists and whistleblowers, they are the everyday heroes of our societies.”
* The Tax Justice Network is an independent international network, launched in 2003. It is dedicated to high-level research, analysis and advocacy in the area of international tax and financial regulation, including the role of tax havens.