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David Cameron Calls for Abolishing Phantom Firms in Major Transparency Victory

British PM Endorses Public Registries of Company Ownership to “Break through the Walls of Corporate Secrecy”


France, Germany Also Call for Meaningful End to Anonymous Shell Companies


GFI Urges G8, U.S., EU to Follow Suit


April 25, 2013
Clark Gascoigne, +1 202 293 0740 x222


WASHINGTON, DC / LONDON – In a major victory for transparency advocates, British Prime Minister David Cameron called on members of the G8 and the European Union Wednesday to “break through the walls of corporate secrecy” that facilitates tax dodging, money laundering, and corruption—endorsing the disclosure of beneficial ownership information in central public registries.  Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization, lauded the statements by Mr. Cameron—included in a letter sent Wednesday to Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council—and the organization encouraged the United States, EU, and G8 to follow suit.


“Anonymous shell companies are the most-widely used method for laundering the proceeds of crime, corruption, and tax evasion,” said GFI Director Raymond Baker, a longtime authority on financial crime. “These phantom firms facilitate sex slavery, terrorism, and tax evasion.  Central public registries of meaningful corporate ownership information are essential to curtailing these pernicious crimes.  We’re thrilled to see Prime Minister Cameron take the lead on this issue.  It’s now time for the European Union, the United States, and the G8 to jump on the bandwagon.”

 

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Ralph Lauren Allegedly Utilizes Trade Misinvoicing to Bribe Argentinean Customs Officials

Fraudulent Trade Misinvoicing Drained US$9.54 Billion in Illicit Money from Argentina from 2001-2010


Trade-Based Money Laundering Technique Siphoned US$4.69 Trillion from Poor Countries between 2001-2010; Facilitates Sex Slavery, Terrorism, Tax Evasion


April 22, 2013
Clark Gascoigne, +1 202 293 0740 x222


WASHINGTON, DC – As the U.S. Department of Justice announced today that Ralph Lauren Corporation (Ralph Lauren) utilized fraudulent misinvoicing tactics to funnel bribes to Argentinean customs officials over the course of five years, Global Financial Integrity (GFI) noted that trade misinvoicing drained US$9.54 billion from the Argentinean economy between 2001 and 2010.  The deliberate misinvoicing of trade documents is used to launder all types of illicit money, and it costs the developing world roughly US$4.69 trillion in illicit financial outflows from 2001 through 2010, according research by GFI, a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization.


“More money flows illicitly out of developing countries through fraudulent trade misinvoicing than through any other vehicle,” said GFI Director Raymond Baker, a longtime authority on financial crime. “Sadly, Ralph Lauren’s transactions are emblematic of a problem draining roughly a billion from the Argentinean economy every year.” 


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G20 Makes Progress on Tax Haven Abuse, Automatic Tax Information Exchange

G20 Says Automatic Tax Information Exchange “Expected to Be the Standard”


Finance Ministers Fail to Adequately Address Anonymous Shell Companies


April 19, 2013
Clark Gascoigne, +1 202 293 0740 x222


WASHINGTON, DC – Global Financial Integrity (GFI) lauded G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Friday for prominently focusing on the issue of tax haven secrecy and strongly declaring that automatic exchange of tax information is “expected to be the standard” moving forward, but GFI expressed disappointment in the leaders’ failure to sufficiently address the issue of anonymous shell companies.  The leaders released their communiqué Friday afternoon after two days of meetings in Washington ahead of the annual spring meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.


“Tax haven secrecy and anonymous shell companies facilitate crime, corruption, and tax evasion, costing the developing world roughly US$1 trillion in illicit outflows every year,” said GFI Director Raymond Baker, citing the organization’s research. “This secrecy costs the U.S. Treasury $150 billion annually in lost tax revenue, it siphoned $261 billion out of the Greek economy in the run-up to the Eurocrisis, and it drained $212 billion from Russia—the current chair of the G20—in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Automatically exchanging tax information between countries and getting rid of anonymous shell companies would significantly curtail these illicit flows, bolstering government revenues in poor and rich nations alike.”


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Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act Would Protect U.S. Taxpayers, Curb Eurocrisis, Assist Developing Countries

On U.S. Tax Day, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) Introduces Legislation to Close Offshore Tax Loopholes and Foster Transparency


5 More European Nations Join Compact to Automatically Exchange Tax Information Multilaterally

 

April 15, 2013
Clark Gascoigne, +1 202 293 0740 x222

 

WASHINGTON, DC – As the deadline arrived Monday for Americans to file their tax returns, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) introduced the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act (STHA) to initiate transparency measures and close several offshore tax loopholes that cost the United States Treasury an estimated $150 billion every year.  Beyond boosting tax revenue in the U.S., Global Financial Integrity (GFI) praised the legislation for its impact on developing nations, which lose an estimated $1 trillion per year in illicit outflows of money due to tax haven secrecy.


“Adopting the Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act would be a major victory for U.S., European, and developing country taxpayers,” said Raymond Baker, director of GFI, a Washington-DC based research and advocacy organization. “It would scrap several egregious offshore tax loopholes—helping to level the playing field between small businesses and multinational corporations, increasing information and transparency for investors, and strengthening law enforcement and tax collection abilities.”


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Multilateral Action in Europe a “Resounding Victory” for Taxpayers & Transparency Advocates

Governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK Agree to Automatically Exchange Tax Information Multilaterally


GFI Urges Rapid Expansion to Include Developing Countries in the Landmark Multilateral Convention


April 10, 2013
Clark Gascoigne, +1 202 293 0740 x222


WASHINGTON, DC – Global Financial Integrity (GFI) applauded the governments of France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the United Kingdom today for announcing that they will be launching the first ever multilateral system of automatic tax information exchange.  The Washington, DC-based research and advocacy group hailed the news as a landmark moment for taxpayers and transparency advocates with enormous implications for global development.


“This is a resounding victory for taxpayers and transparency groups; it’s not possible to overstate the significance of this news,” said, GFI Director Raymond Baker. “Automatic tax information exchange ensures that tax authorities and law enforcement in these countries will have the necessary records they require to detect and deter billions of dollars in tax evading money.”


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GFI Applauds European Leaders for Strong Extractives Transparency Agreement

Historic EU Transparency Rules Would Build Upon Landmark Cardin-Lugar Provisions to Include Logging Companies and Large, Privately-Owned Firms


April 9, 2013
Clark Gascoigne, +1 202 293 0740 x222


WASHINGTON, DC – Global Financial Integrity (GFI) lauded European leaders today for agreeing to adopt historic transparency rules for European companies operating in the extractive sectors.  The rules, announced this evening in Brussels, will require large, privately-owned European companies and EU-listed firms operating in the oil, gas, mining, and logging sectors to disclose information on payments made to governments.


"This agreement is a major victory for anyone who cares about fighting poverty, protecting investors, making markets more efficient, or reducing corruption,” remarked GFI Director Raymond Baker. "Our research shows that the developing world loses roughly US$1 trillion per year to crime, corruption, and tax evasion. This is a systemic problem caused largely by the opaque, secretive global financial system. For citizens of resource-rich countries, the new EU rules will shine a light in places that need it most."


The agreement will require firms covered by the rules to disclose on a project-by-project by project basis all payments made to governments above €100,000 (approximately US$131,000) including taxes-paid, royalty fees, and license fees.


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Post-2015 MDG Panel Highlights Need to Tackle Illicit Financial Flows, Tax Havens
UN High-Level Panel Communiqué Calls Tackling Illicit Financial Flows, Tax Havens, “Particularly Important” to Development Agenda


March 27, 2013
Clark Gascoigne, +1 202 293 0740 x222


WASHINGTON, DC – Global Financial Integrity (GFI) today praised the United Nations High-Level Panel (HLP) of Eminent Persons on the Post-2015 Development Agenda for highlighting the need to tackle illicit financial flows and the role of tax havens as key to global development moving forward.


“Tax haven secrecy drained developing countries of US$859 billion in illicit financial outflows in 2010, ten times more than the US$88 billion they received in official development assistance,” said GFI Director Raymond Baker. “This is an astronomically large amount of money. We’re talking about nearly US$1 trillion that could have been used to invest in healthcare, education, and infrastructure in the world’s poorest countries. It’s nearly a US$1 trillion dollars that could have been used to pull people out of poverty and save lives.”


“Curtailing this illicit outflow of money is crucial to global development efforts, and it’s fantastic to see the High Level Panel prioritize the fight against illicit financial flows.”


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