Panama Papers: It's so easy - and scandalous

A press release of Fabio De Masi

04.04.2016

Zur deutschsprachigen Pressemitteilung.

Jachthafen Panama

"It's so easy for the rich and powerful - politicians and (other) criminals - to hide and launder their money through tax havens like Panama and the British Virgin Islands (BVI). It is a scandal that EU Member States still have not put an end to this massive tax cheat. Riding on the austerity wave into economic depression while letting the rich get away with this tax scam undermines democracy. Double Tax Treaties with Panama, BVI and the like have to be discontinued and to be replaced by effective source taxation as long as they harbour tax evaders. Politicians exposed by the leaks have to step back and we finally need an appropriate taxation of the European oligarchs' wealth" comments Fabio De Masi (DIE LINKE.), coordinator of the Left GUE/NGL group in the European Parliament's Special Committee on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature and effect (TAXE 2) the "Panama Papers" revelations by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on the law firm Mossack Fonseca's exposed list of clients.

De Masi goes on: "The leaks make clear that the proposed reforms of the international tax system are insufficient. The OECD recently removed Panama from its grey list of tax havens. And the Netherlands - the current Council of the EU Presidency - have signed a Double Tax Treaty with Panama, like a number of other EU Member States. Germany has a similar agreement with the British Virgin Island, a notorious tax haven. In addition, the European Commission plans to exclude tax havens like Panama from the country-by-country reporting for multinational corporations. That is a scandal."

De Masi concludes: "All EU Member States must instantly end their Double Tax Treaties with Panama and the British Virgin Islands and replace them with withholding taxes on financial transactions to these jurisdictions, as long as those have not put in place serious transparency measures, such as publicly accessible registers of the ultimate beneficial owners of all companies, trusts and similar structures, and are not fully compliant with automatic exchange of information procedures. The OECD should urgently review its decision regarding Panama's classification. All those implicated in the leaks and holding public office should immediately step back. Banks which systematically and repeatedly aid tax evasion need to have their licence withdrawn, in line with the European Parliament's December 2015 recommendation. Steps to robustly close down tax havens, which are also key in the fight against the financing of terrorism and organised crime, need to be accompanied by a EU-wide coordinated wealth levy."

Additional press information:
At the TAXE 2 hearing on 21 March 2016 in the European Parliament MEP De Masi questioned the Swiss bank UBS about their activities in Panama. The bank refused to answer if and in how far they help rich individuals and big companies with tax avoidance or evasion (see Video minute 8:10 ).

MEP De Masi also asked the European Commission on Double Tax Treaties with Panama. You can find the question here.

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