America’s most complicit nation in helping tax evaders hide their wealth

JAccording to a new assessment of Tax Justice Networka group based in the UK.

This is the worst-worst showing for the United States since the rankings began in 2009.

The Tax Justice Network’s Financial Secrecy Index 2022, released on Tuesday, said that while the supply of financial secrecy services continued to decline globally due to transparency reforms, five G7 countries to them alone – the US, UK, Japan, Germany and Italy – are responsible for cutting global progress by more than half.

The report, which ranks 141 jurisdictions, came a day before a meeting of G7 finance ministers and central bank governors in Bonn and Königswinter in Germany. Officials should recommit to applying sanctions on the hidden assets of Russian oligarchs.

Some $10 trillion is held overseas beyond the rule of law by wealthy individuals through covert arrangements. This figure is 2.5 times more than the value of all US dollar and euro banknotes and coins in circulation in the world today.

Many wealthy Nigerians are beneficiaries of these schemes. The Nigerian government has not acted on previous reports from PREMIUM TIMES expose hidden wealth hidden by politicians and entrepreneurs abroad.

LR: Former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi; Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu; Governor of Ogun State, Governor Dapo Abiodun; Former Aviation Minister and incumbent Senator Stella Oduah and Governor Gboyega Oyetola of Osun State were all singled out in the recent PANDORA PAPERS report published by PREMIUM TIMES

The revelation that the G7 countries themselves are undermining global financial transparency has sparked growing calls for a UN tax treaty that takes international tax and finance decision-making out of the hands of of the few rich countries.

“Globally, we are beginning to fight financial secrecy used by Russian oligarchs, as well as tax evaders, corrupt politicians and organized crime around the world to hide and launder ill-gotten wealth. But the US, UK, Germany, Italy and Japan have more than halved this global progress, fueling financial secrecy instead of fighting it. The G7 must clarify its position in the fight against financial secrecy by committing to a global asset registry,” said Alex Cobham, chief executive of the Tax Justice Network.

According to the Financial Secrecy Index, the top 10 financial secrecy providers are the United States, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Japan, Germany, United Arab Emirates, British Virgin Islands (British territory of overseas) and Guernsey (British Crown dependency) .

Undermining Biden’s commitment

Jhe United States has increased its offer of financial secrecy services to the world by nearly a third (31%) since 2020, according to Tax Justice Network, a contradiction to President Joe Biden’s efforts to tackle global financial secrecy. Mr Biden said: “I will lead international efforts to bring transparency to the global financial system, prosecute illicit tax havens, seize stolen assets and make it harder for leaders who steal from their people to hide behind shell companies. anonymous. ”

ALSO READ: FIRS lists top Nigerian taxpayers for 2021

His administration took action in his first months in office to address widespread corporate tax abuse by multinational corporations by championing a global minimum tax rate. He has also openly acknowledged his own country’s role in global tax evasion and money laundering by wealthy individuals. US Treasury Secretary Yellen remarked in December 2021 that the United States may be “the best place to hide and launder ill-gotten gains”.

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The country passed a transparency law in January 2021 requiring the beneficial owners of companies to be identified and registered. However, the law did not produce a significant improvement in the United States’ score on the index due to limited definitions of legal persons and beneficial owners who must register, exemptions from registration, and the lack of requirements for all trusts,

The tax report says one of the most damaging factors to the United States’ position as the financial secrecy capital of the world is the refusal of the country to reciprocally exchange information with the tax authorities of other countries. More than 100 countries share information on the financial accounts of nonresidents in their jurisdictions under the OECD Common Reporting Standard.

The United States remains the only major economy not to participate. Ironically, the United States requires under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and its related Intergovernmental Agreements (IGAs) that all countries share information with them about the financial accounts of U.S. taxpayers overseas. .

President Biden has urged the US Congress to promote a more reciprocal automatic exchange of information on digital assets as part of its 2023 budget request. A similar request by former President Barack Obama was not granted.

Former US President Barack Obama (Photo credit: The Peak)
Former US President Barack Obama (Photo credit: The Peak)

“As the United States is committed to being a leader in cracking down on global corruption, these rankings show how corrupt actors are weaponizing our financial system against democracy at home and abroad,” said Ian Gary. , executive director of the American company. Coalition for Corporate Financial Accountability and Transparency (FACT).

“Congress and the Biden administration have made progress, but now they must follow through on America’s ambitious anti-corruption strategy, starting with fully implementing the Transparency in Business Act. The United States should also support a more reciprocal automatic exchange of information between countries; bringing sunshine to the US real estate, private investment and financial enabler industries; and increase funding to key agencies.


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