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CBI backs end to financial secrecy, as MPs investigate tax dodging

February 27 2012 - The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has thrown its weight behind campaigners calling for an end to the secrecy offered by tax havens, in a move enthusiastically welcomed by Christian Aid.

‘We’re delighted to see the CBI coming out against tax haven secrecy, which does incalculable damage to people’s lives across the world and especially in developing countries,’ said Joseph Stead, Christian Aid’s Senior Economic Justice Adviser.

‘Tax haven secrecy helps criminals across the world to get away with the laundering of the proceeds of their crimes, with corruption and also with tax dodging, which costs poor countries alone some $160 billion a year – far more than they receive in aid.’

The CBI’s anti-secrecy stance has emerged in the organisation’s written evidence to MPs on the House of Commons International Development Committee. ‘We would, once again, also support the end of secrecy jurisdictions,’ it says.

This comes on the back of the CBI’s statement this week that tax avoidance is unjustified, even if is legal.

Mr Stead added: ‘Such is the consensus that tax is crucial for development, that the CBI and development agencies Christian Aid and ActionAid have made a joint submission to MPs, highlighting the importance of supporting developing countries in collecting tax revenue. This is an idea whose time has come.’

The International Development Committee is investigating how poor countries can increase their tax revenue and will hear oral evidence at 10.30am tomorrow, Tuesday 28th February, from Christian Aid, ActionAid and the two organisations’ Zambian partner the Centre for Trade Policy and Development (CTPD).

CTPD’s work includes campaigning for multinational companies such as Glencore to pay their taxes in Zambia and to clean up their sometimes severe pollution of the local environment. Glencore is the main owner of a Zambian copper mine called Mopani, which, according to a leaked draft of an auditors’ report last year, may have dodged tax in Zambia. Glencore denies any wrongdoing.

In his oral evidence tomorrow, Joseph Stead of Christian Aid will tell MPs about unpublished research Christian Aid has conducted about tax in another African country.

Christian Aid’s written evidence to the Committee highlights the devastating effects of financial secrecy in developing countries, and the urgent need for reforms which would help them collect the tax they are due from multinational companies.

‘The potential for the private sector to drive development is vast, as DFID has recognised, but this can only provide real benefits for those living in poverty if the returns from the private sector are shared,’ the charity tells MPs in its written evidence.

It also urges the UK to use its power to help transform global financial secrecy and suggests that the country’s controversial tax deal with Switzerland is a step in the wrong direction: ‘The Swiss deal, by preserving secrecy, is retarding global progress towards information exchange, beneficial for both developed and developing countries alike. Global progress on this agenda is vital for the poorest countries that lack the clout to force changes unilaterally.’

Joe Stead added: ‘The Swiss deal highlights the current lack of coherence across different departments’ policies. We very much hope that MPs will take a critical look at how the policies of one department, such as the Treasury, can undermine the more enlightened work of others to reduce global poverty.’


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To arrange an interview with Joe Stead or Savior Mwambwa, or for more information, please contact Rachel Baird on 0207 523 2446 or rbaird@christian-aid.org


Notes to Editors:


1. Christian Aidworks in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the needisgreatest, regardless of religion, helping people build the lives they deserve.

2. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality.Our report, Poverty Over, explains what we believe needs to be done – and can be done – to end poverty.  Details athttp://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/poverty-over-report.pdf

3.  Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of 100 churches and church-related organisations that work together inhumanitarian assistance and development.
  Further details at http://www.actalliance.org

4. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter:
http://twitter.com/caid_newswire

5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit
www.christianaid.org.uk