January 15, 2009
Monique Perry Danziger, +1 202 293 0740 ext. 222
WASHINGTON, DC – A unique global coalition of civil society organizations and more than 50 governments was launched today to address the inequalities in the financial system that penalize billions of people. The Task Force on Financial Integrity and Economic Development advocates for greatly improved transparency and accountability in the global financial system. The opacity and complexity of the financial system, enabled by financial institutions, laundering techniques and more than 70 secrecy jurisdictions, is at the heart of the current financial crisis and significantly impedes the ability of poor countries to develop their economies.
“The Task Force will promote increased transparency and international cooperation to enhance the integrity and governance of markets,” said Raymond Baker who is Director of Washington, DC-based Global Financial Integrity which heads the Task Force. According to John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network in London, “Illicit financial flows drain money out of poor countries, enable criminal activity, and undermine international development.” Julien Meimon of the Leading Group on Solidarity Levies to Fund Development noted that “the explicit goal is to facilitate innovative financing mechanisms to ensure a fair share of the world’s resources are made available to its poorest people especially in developing countries.”
The Task Force advocates:
- That systems be put in place to curtail the practice of mispricing trade;
- That country-by-country reporting of sales profits and tax paid by multinational corporations be required in audited annual reports and tax returns;
- That the beneficial ownership, control and accounts of companies, trusts and foundations be readily available on public record to facilitate due diligence;
- That automatic exchange of information between tax and governmental authorities on income, gains and property received by non-resident individuals, corporations, and trusts, be made mandatory;
- That predicate offenses for a money laundering charge be harmonized and codified.
Norway is the first funder of the Task Force and Harald Tollan from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that “the Task Force is a natural extension of Development Minister Erik Solheim’s focus on the damaging effects of illicit financial flows, and the continuation of the constructive partnership formed by civil society, international organizations and governments under the Norwegian-led efforts to address illicit financial flows.”
Dorothee Richter, from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, noted that “the new coalition is indispensable in the fight against illicit financial flows. Our initiative at the International Tax Compact strongly supports the work of the Task Force.”
In the near term the Task Force will focus on the April meeting of G20 nations in London to promote its agenda with governments.