29 June 2016 - As whistleblowers who exposed multinationals’ cosy tax deals were sentenced in Luxembourg today, Christian Aid said the public should thank, not punish them.
“These whistleblowers deserve our thanks for exposing the scandalous ‘sweetheart’ tax deals between governments and multinationals,” said Toby Quantrill, Christian Aid’s Principal Adviser on Economic Justice.
“The deals were deeply unfair to the millions of ordinary people and small companies who have no choice but to pay their taxes and who need the hospitals, schools and many other public services funded by tax.
”Even though the sentences handed down today were suspended, they send completely the wrong signal about what the whistleblowers did. For society at large, they were heroes, not villains.”
Mr Quantrill added: “One of the many disturbing aspects of this case is that more than a year after LuxLeaks, very little has changed. We still don’t know what taxes multinationals pay in each country, or what cosy deals they may have done with European governments, including the UK’s.
“Despite the outrage around scandals such as LuxLeaks, we remain reliant on people prepared to risk prison to reveal information which should already be in the public domain. That is a further scandal.”
However in an encouraging development yesterday (Tuesday 28th June), UK MPs came very close to approving a reform that would help curb multinational tax dodging around the world.
The move almost won House of Commons approval, after 273 MPs from all the major parties voted in favour – only 22 short of the number needed.
The Chancellor George Osborne is now facing calls to use his power to ensure the ‘ShowMeTheMoney’ amendment to the Finance Bill becomes law.
It would require multinational companies above a certain size to publish information that they already have to give the UK taxman, about key details of their business in each country where they operate.
Such information can reveal suspicious patterns which warrant further investigation and may reflect a firm’s failure to pay its fair share of tax in all the countries where it operates.
Caroline Flint, MP for Don Valley, tabled the amendment, which was in turn backed by MPs from the Conservatives, UKIP, the Liberal Democrats, Labour, the Scottish Nationalists, the Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SDLP. Others supporting the amendment included Christian Aid, Oxfam, Save the Children, ActionAid and the Tax Justice Network.
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, sustainably. Our strategy document Partnership for Change explains how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development.
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5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk