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Tax haven secrecy is a global curse, Christian Aid urges Ed Miliband

January 16 2012 - Christian Aid welcomes Ed Miliband’s determination to tackle the tax havens which are harming UK public finances but it urges him to go further, because financial secrecy is a curse for poor countries too.

‘It’s great that Mr Miliband has recognised that tax haven secrecy is damaging people in the UK, by providing a cover for people and companies to hide their wealth and avoid paying the taxes that are so urgently needed,’ said Dr David McNair, Christian Aid’s Principal Adviser on Economic Justice.

‘But we hope the Labour leader will also recognise that financial secrecy has devastating effects on public services and people’s lives across the world, especially in poor countries.

‘Christian Aid estimates that tax dodging costs poor countries $160 billion a year, which is much more than they receive in aid. So they, too, need action to shed light on offshore accounts and other wealth which may be liable for tax.

‘This is an international problem and it demands international solutions, starting with a global end to tax haven secrecy.

‘It would be fantastic to see the Labour party join the campaign to End Tax Haven Secrecy, demanding that G20 countries commit to a global deal under which all tax havens have to reveal that information to all tax authorities. Only then will tax dodgers have nowhere to hide.’

In 2011, Christian Aid and its partners delivered a petition to G20 chair Nicolas Sarkozy, which was signed by 40,000 people, and 52 organisations from more than 20 countries.

Dr McNair added: ‘As a first step, we encourage Mr Miliband to do all he can to reverse the UK’s shameful deal with Switzerland, one of the most globally harmful of all tax havens, which effectively rewards offshore tax evaders and undermines the global call for tax haven transparency.’

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

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in nearly 50 countries. We act where the need is greatest, 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 at http://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