2013 – A Turning Point in the Quest for Financial Transparency

Christian Aid

By its very nature the work of changing unjust structures is slow and it can be difficult to see results for one’s efforts. Edmund Rice International is a member of the Financial Transparency Coalition a global network working together to address opacity in the international financial system, which creates inequalities that harm billions of people.

It is therefore encouraging to read in the latest communication to members of the coalition that 2013 has marked a true turning point for financial transparency.

Some of the significant events underlying that claim were:-
– In March, the European Union passed a directive mandating full country by country reporting for the banking sector. After a significant advocacy push, the European Council committed in May to extend this to all sectors in the future.
– In May, Kofi Annan’s Africa Progress Panel made illicit flows a focus of its annual report, urging world leaders to tackle the problem and drawing attention to the fact that Africa loses twice as much in illicit financial outflows as it receives in international aid.
– In September, in part due to the efforts of our civil society and government members, G20 governments meeting in St. Petersburg committed to implement automatic exchange of tax information by 2015. The next step is to ensure that this agreement includes developing countries so the terms also work for non-G20 countries.
– In August and October, three bills were introduced in the US Congress that, if enacted, would make it easier to hold top executives at U.S. financial institutions responsible for anti-money laundering compliance at their bank, and would require states to obtain the identities of the people behind corporations formed under their laws.
– In October, the UK government announced its intention to institute a public register of beneficial ownership, the first country to do so. Just two years ago, the UK was a blocker of any progress on the issue. Our advocacy played a large role in this transformation, and we hope more governments will follow.

Take a look here for an excellent video explaining how multinational companies avoid paying tax. It is all legal but is it moral?

One of the aims of the Financial Transparency Coalition is to campaign to change the law so that such practices are made illegal.

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