29 May 2013 - Tax evaders will have fewer places to hide their money after nine countries, including tax havens Singapore and Luxembourg, today signed a treaty agreeing to share information about financial account holders.
Signatories to the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters agree to share information on request from other countries, with optional provisions for that to become automatic.
Joseph Stead, Christian Aid’s Senior Adviser on Economic Justice, said the new signings, announced by the OECD, increased the pressure on UK-linked tax havens to follow suit.
‘It’s time for the UK Government to say enough is enough and ensure UK-linked tax havens immediately follow the lead set today,’ he said.
‘Last week the Prime Minister wrote to the UK’s Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, calling on them to sign the treaty. But the time for asking nicely is over. If he is to achieve effective results on tax and transparency at the G8, then he must ensure UK-linked tax havens follow this example. A G8 tax agreement is at stake.
‘Until the Prime Minister achieves this, it’s hard to see that the UK will have the credibility to lead the G8 into an ambitious agreement to tackle tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance that will benefit countries rich and poor.’
Mr Stead said the new signings were a welcome move against international financial secrecy, which makes life easy for tax dodgers, money launderers and corrupt individuals the world over.
‘When governments share financial information with each other, ideally automatically, they make it very difficult for their citizens to hide dirty money by placing it in another country,’ he said.
‘Developing countries need access to information, especially from tax havens, and this convention is a key tool to help them.
‘The bad news is that many key governments still have not taken this first step and signed up, including UK-linked tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands, the Turks & Caicos and Bermuda.
‘Tax havens like these help foreign citizens evade tax and hide finance corruptly gained. Tax dodging is especially damaging to poor countries – Christian Aid estimates it costs them $160 billion in lost revenues every year. This is money that could support desperately needed public services such as health and education.'
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Notes to editors:
1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 50 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 is a member of the Enough Food For Everyone IF campaign, a collection of more than 180 agencies in the UK that is calling on governments to address some of the key factors causing global hunger, which at present afflicts nearly a billion people. As well as providing aid, it wants governments to stop big companies dodging tax in poor countries, prevent poor farmers being forced off their land, particularly by biofuel concerns, and insist on greater governmental and business transparency.
3. Christian Aid has a vision, an end to global poverty, and we believe that vision can become a reality. We believe that the underlying causes of poverty were made by, and can be ended by, human action. Our strategy for building the power of us all to end poverty is embodied in a new report ‘Partnership for Change’: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/Images/2012_strategy.pdf
4. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org
5. Follow Christian Aid's newswire on Twitter: http://twitter.com/caid_newswire
6. For more information about the work of Christian Aid visit http://www.christianaid.org.uk