MEPs’ mission to Luxembourg on tax evasion practices yields more questions than answers
A two-day mission by a group of MEPs to Luxembourg looking into the country’s practices of tax evasion and money laundering – including breaches of EU law – has yielded more questions than answers.
A delegation from the European Parliament’s Committee of Inquiry into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA) held discussions with the Duchy’s Finance Minister, along with members of the Luxembourgian parliament’s Finance Committee, the Justice Minister and the Director of the Direct Contributions Administration.
Earlier today, the MEPs met with members of the Board of Directors of the Financial Sector Monitoring Commission from Luxembourg, as well as representatives of HSBC and the accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Representing GUE/NGL in Luxembourg, Miguel Urbán MEP said afterwards that concerns remain over the Duchy’s true commitment to stamping out such illegal practices:
“The double-talk that the authorities of Luxembourg maintain – saying on the one hand they have changed the model towards one of transparency but then confirming the inexistence of such exchange of information in practice for particular tax rulings – is troubling.”
“But according to data released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, during Juncker’s 18 years as Prime Minister, 548 Luxembourg tax agreements were created to provide favourable tax cuts to a range of multinationals that included Pepsi, IKEA, AIG, Coach, Apple, Deutsche Bank, Amazon, Fiat, Burberry, Heinz and JP Morgan,” Urbán said.
“As an offshore centre that attracts foreign capital, some reports equate Luxembourg to the Cayman Islands. In fact, according to the Tax Justice Network's jurisdictional index of secrecy, back in 2013, Luxembourg was ranked second in the world between Switzerland and Hong Kong.”
“Gabriel Zucman, author of ‘The Hidden Wealth of Nations’, estimates that the country conceals some 300,000 million euros in its offshore accounts – half of what Swiss banks manage. It currently has about 140 banks in its small territory – of which only five belong to Luxembourg.”
“This is yet more proof that Luxembourg – along with Switzerland and Austria – has in recent years undermined efforts to promote financial transparency through the European directive on the taxation of private savings,” Urbán said.
The final mission by members of the PANA Committee to investigate money-laundering and tax evasion will be a visit to the United States at the end of this month.