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The Panama Papers: Implicated politicians must step down and wealth must be taxed appropriately

GUE/NGL Coordinator for the Special Committee on tax rulings and other measures similar in nature and effect (TAXE 2), Fabio De Masi, comments: “It is so easy for the rich and powerful – politicians and (other) criminals – to hide and launder their money through tax havens like Panama and the British Virgin Islands. It is a scandal that EU Member States have still not put an end to this massive tax cheat.”

De Masi criticises EU Member States for helping the rich to evade taxes while Europe remains in a state of economic crisis: “They are riding the wave of austerity into economic depression while letting the rich get away with this tax scam. This undermines democracy.”

“The leaks make clear that the proposed reforms of the international tax system are insufficient: The OECD recently removed Panama from its 'grey list' of tax havens. So then we see that The Netherlands – the current holder of the European Council Presidency – and a number of other EU Member States have signed Double Tax Treaties with Panama. And Germany has a similar agreement with the British Virgin Islands; a notorious tax haven.

“In addition, the European Commission plans to exclude tax havens like Panama from the country-by-country reporting for multinational corporations. That is a scandal.”

De Masi calls for urgent action from EU Member States: “As long as tax havens like Panama and the British Virgin Islands harbour tax evaders; do not put in place serious transparency measures, such as publicly accessible registers of the ultimate beneficiaries of all companies, trusts and similar structures; and are not fully compliant with automatic exchange of information procedures; Member States must replace Double Tax Treaties with withholding taxes on financial transactions to these jurisdictions.”

“The OECD should urgently review its decision regarding Panama's classification. All those implicated in the leaks and holding public office should immediately step down. Banks which systematically and repeatedly aid tax evasion need to have their licences withdrawn, in line with the European Parliament's December 2015 recommendation.

“Steps to robustly close down tax havens – which are also key to shutting down the financing of terrorism and organised crime – need to be accompanied by an EU-wide coordinated wealth levy,” De Masi concludes.

 

Further information:

At the TAXE 2 hearing on March 21, 2016 in the European Parliament, MEP Fabio De Masi questioned the Swiss bank UBS about their activities in Panama, The bank refused to answer whether, and to what extent, it helps rich individuals and big companies with tax avoidance or evasion (view video, at 8:10).

MEP De Masi also posed a question to the European Commission on Double Tax Treaties with Panama.

 

GUE/NGL Press Contact:

Nikki Sullings  +32 22 83 27 60 / +32 483 03 55 75