transparency

One word: path-et-ic

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 29/11/2017 - 7:44pm in

I’m coming over a bit all Craig Revel Horwood this morning as a result of a report in the Guardian this morning that says:

Theresa May discussed the Paradise Papers with the leaders of 10 British overseas territories at their annual gathering in Downing Street on Tuesday, with the prime minister urging further action to combat tax avoidance.

A cross-party group of 12 MPs wrote to the prime minister last week requesting she set a deadline for tax haven jurisdictions under British control to publish registers of the real owners of shell companies.

May raised the issue of public registers at the meeting, a government source confirmed, and said work on tax avoidance could help enhance reputations internationally. However, the prime minister has so far refused to endorse the measure, which was championed by her predecessor, David Cameron.

There’s just one word that can be said in response to that. Path-et-ic.

A day that European ideals bleed

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 18/10/2017 - 7:31pm in

The brutal political murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia (53) mother of three, has shaken the European political scene.

Caruana Galizia’s work highlighted cases of alleged corruption among Maltese government officials. Known for her direct, no-compromise attitude and uneasy questions that shook both government and opposition alike, she led the investigation into the “Panama Papers” that exposed Malta’s ties to tax havens. She struggled, in this small island EU country, for the right of the people to know what’s happening behind the curtain of so-called democracy.

With Caruana Galizia’s death, the fight for transparency, freedom of the press, for human dignity has received a terrible blow. Today is a day that European ideals bleed.

This unprecedented crime reminds us of those journalists that lost their lives fighting the same enemy: Anna Politkovskaya in Russia, Veronica Guerin in Ireland, Slavko Ćuruvija and Milan Pantić in Serbia. Those journalists, and many more, paid for their belief in a free press with their own lives.

So, let us not say: “Never again”, as we did after the fall of Third Reich. Let us instead say: “This ends now!” There will be no justice and no democracy in Europe until those who committed this crime, both the executors and the ringleaders, face justice. And we need to go further: we must establish new European laws to cut off the heads of this modern Hydra of tax havens.

 

Aleksandaris a member of DSC Belgrade 1, a writer, dramatist, historian and journalist. His main points of interest are media freedom and European cultural politics.

 

Revenue transparency

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 09/10/2017 - 7:55pm in

After much of last week in Scotland this week I am off to Washington, DC. I will be discussing government transparency on its revenue cycles at the Global Initiative for Financial Transparency at the invitation of the World Bank. It’s a mad trip: I will be back on Thursday.

The suggestions I will be making are based in part on some existing work, including that with Andrew Baker of Sheffield University on spillover effects.

I will also be developing themes presented in Scotland this year, most especially in my White Paper for Common Weal.

And there is new work that I am developing on tax gaps that I will be discussing but where papers are in fairly draft form at present, but which are intended to extend the underpinning for this analysis in ways not previously attempted, which is one of the directions for my work at City, University of London right now.

If blogging and moderation are a little erratic as a result of this, you now know why.

The UK government is failing to uphold proper standards in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 29/09/2017 - 6:02pm in

I think it appropriate to share this statement from Publish What You Pay, with whom I have had a long association. The statement provides a shocking indictment of UK government attitudes to civil society, good governnance, engagement and transparency:

The UK EITI Civil Society Network (CSN) regretfully announces its withdrawal from engagement with the UK EITI.

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is an international standard for openness around the management of revenues from natural resources. It is designed to improve accountability and public trust for the revenues paid and received for a country’s oil, gas and mineral resources.

We oppose the UK Government’s unilateral decision on 26 September 2017 to give one organisation, Extractive Industries Civil Society (EICS), authority over certain civil society nominations to the UK EITI Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG). This decision contravenes sections 1.3 and 1.4 of the EITI Standard and is a breach of civil society’s right to determine its own representatives independently.

The CSN, which represents broad and mainstream civil society engagement with the UK EITI, a number of whose member organisations were instrumental in the establishment of the EITI internationally in 2003, has an agreed and published process for filling civil society MSG places, which was adopted by consensus.

In July 2017 we wrote to Margot James MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Small Business, Consumers and Corporate Responsibility, who is the UK’s EITI Champion, expressing our concern at one organisation’s control of half of the civil society MSG seats and calling for a democratic, fair and transparent process for civil society selection.

In a further effort to find a solution in September 2017, and following consultation with government officials at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the CSN agreed to amend its Membership Principles to make reference to diversity and local UK communities affected by the extractive industries. The CSN also invited EICS to apply to join the CSN, which it refused to do. We have always sought in good faith to find a solution to the challenges faced on the issue of civil society representation.

The decision to give special status to one civil society organisation over its peers goes against the EITI’s founding principles. We withdraw from the process with immediate effect.

Full member organisations of the CSN:

 

 

The network also has more than 20 individual associate members, mostly affiliated to non-governmental organisations or academic institutions.

The UK has a duty to reform its Caribbean Overseas Territories

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 13/09/2017 - 4:10pm in

Rupert Jones, the former attorney general of Anguilla, wrote an article for the Guardian yesterday in which he suggested that the UK’s lethargic response to the Hurricane Irma induced crisis that has hit that island and others in the Caribbean is due to the UK’s uncertain attitude towards its Overseas Territories due to their tax haven status.

He graciously referred to my comments on this issue on this blog, as did the Guardian when quoting me at length in a related artcile on their web site. I have to say, he and I seem to be of not dissimilar mind. His central argument is that the UK is deeply embarrassed by tax haven activity and the refusal of these places to comply with requests for improved transparency but as he notes:

The UK may hold the local governments of these territories responsible for these failures. What it does not say is that the UK could legislate to require reform tomorrow if there was the political will. There is not, perhaps because of the fear that it would highlight the UK’s ultimate responsibility.

This ability on the part of the UK to impose its will on these places is something I have long argued exists, but is strenuously denied in Whitehall. It is good to see it confirmed by someone with very good reason to know the facts.

I also welcome this statement, with which I concur:

Both UK and local politicians also recognise that the islands’ economies, heavily reliant on offshore financial services, might flounder with the major loss of jobs. Then the UK may have to provide alternative investment.

I have long argued this is our duty.

In essence what we agree upon is what Rupert Jones says at the end of how own artcile:

I hope he [Boris Johnson] will maximise the UK’s response to the devastation wreaked by Irma, as well as using it as an opportunity to discuss our relationship with the overseas territories. It’s a conversation long overdue.

I can hope.

But I do not expect it will happen.

‘Promised’ Charity Money to Be Investigated

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 10/03/2015 - 11:36am in