Multinational companies should be required to publicly report their number of employees, facilities and their revenue on a country-by-country basis to help reveal tax abuses, a US-based think-tank has said in the aftermath of leak Paradise Papers. The leaked documents from Bermuda-based global offshore law firm Appleby revealed the offsore investments by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The investments appear among a leak of 13.4 million files from two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens. The latest vast leak of financial papers has details on 180 countries. India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names. In all, there are 714 Indians in the tally. “Doing legitimate business in offshore secrecy jurisdictions like Bermuda is not illegal, but the Paradise Papers investigation is yet another example of how individuals and businesses—thanks to offshore law firms like Appleby and Estera—are systematically abusing the secrecy they provide,” said Raymond Baker, president of Global Financial Integrity (GFI).
Multinational companies ought to be required to publicly report their number of employees and facilities plus their revenue on a country-by-country basis to help reveal such tax abuses, he said in a press release issued by the think tank. GFI research estimates that opacity in the global financial system, thanks to tax haven secrecy, anonymous companies, trade-based money laundering and lax financial crime enforcement, churns illicit financial flows (IFFs) in and out of developing countries worth at least 14.1 to 24.0 per cent of developing country trade, on average per year, based on measurable sources of IFFs, the release said. “This global shadow financial system bleeds the world’s poorest economies and propels crime, corruption, and tax evasion,” it said.
Appleby has shown on paper that it is aware of its requirements to conduct thorough and honest customer due diligence with potential and existing clients, but the leaked files seem to show that it’s rarely putting this into practice, said GFI Legal Counsel and Director of Government Affairs, Heather Lowe. “Law firms and other designated non-financial businesses and professions cannot continue to be left to police themselves – jurisdictions need to require and publish public beneficial ownership information,” Lowe said. The ICIJ has brought to light again the global shadow financial system for the rich and powerful of the world. It was also behind the Panama Papers made public last year.