Juncker must come clean before ‘Panama Papers’ committee today

A press release by Fabio De Masi

May 30th, 2017
Fabio De Masi

As a result of GUE/NGL’s initiative, the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker will be appearing before the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA) today, with MEPs demanding answers as to what role he - as former Prime Minister and finance minister of Luxembourg - played in overseeing the Grand Duchy’s development into one of the world’s biggest tax havens.

During the mandate of Parliament’s Special Committee on Tax Rulings (TAXE), GUE/NGL MEP Fabio De Masi - Vice Chair of the PANA Committee - managed to get Juncker to release a page which had been held secret from a report on tax rulings in Luxembourg for 18 years.

Commenting ahead of today’s hearing, De Masi says:

“As Luxembourg’s premier from 1995 to 2013, Mr Juncker took on the role as architect and godfather of one of Europe’s biggest tax cartels. And yet, he wants to wash his hands and proclaim innocence! He claims never to have negotiated any tax deals with multinationals as this was always done by the tax administration.”

“But documents from the United States’s Internal Revenue Service cast doubt on these claims. Back in September 2003, for example, Juncker met with four senior Amazon tax officials to convince the internet giant to establish its headquarters in Luxembourg.”

“One of these officials was Bob Comfort - former head of tax at Amazon and now Honorary Consul of Luxembourg in Seattle. Comfort has repeatedly and publicly praised Juncker for his collaboration and Juncker himself has long boasted about attracting companies to the Grand Duchy with tax deals”, explains De Masi.

“In addition, the statements made by the finance secretary of Madeira to the PANA Committee suggest that Juncker made tax dumping Luxembourg’s raison d’état. In 2012, Luxembourg’s ambassador allegedly visited the Portuguese island in order to lure companies to Luxembourg with tax deals.”

“By watering down the EU’s Saving Tax Directive and by playing an obstructive role in the Council, Luxembourg has caused a lot of damage. That is why it is essential that the Directive on Administrative Cooperation in tax matters is implemented properly,” says the German MEP.

“Juncker embodies a European Union that serves the multinational corporations; he is therefore part of the problem - not the solution.”

“Instead of hiding behind tax officials, Juncker should come clean about his past. As President of the Commission, he must now make it clear to Luxembourg and other EU tax havens that they can no longer block meaningful progress in the fight against tax dumping or their cooperation with the PANA Committee”, concludes De Masi.