Third of EU financial secrecy comes from inside its borders - report
LONDON, Sept 23 (Reuters) - People or firms in the European
Union that wish to keep their financial affairs secret more
often find the services they require inside the EU than in one
of the tax havens blacklisted by the bloc, the Tax Justice
Network (TJN) said on Sunday.
Such services include shell companies and banking secrecy
and a third used by individuals or entities inside the EU are
sourced from within it, the report said, while just 1 percent
stem from places the EU has blacklisted as tax havens.
"It is hard to call the EU's tax haven blacklist an
effective firewall against economic threats when it fails to
detect 99 percent of the financial secrecy threatening member
states," said Markus Meinzer, a director at TJN, which uses its
research to advocate for changes to the tax system.
A European Commission spokesman said all EU member states
comply with the criteria laid out for the blacklist, and are
bound by EU legislation that requires them to go further than
"That is not to say that we claim everything is perfect in
the EU," he continued. "There is always room for improvement,
and the commission is busy addressing this through a mix of hard
law, soft law and state aid cases."
Europe is wrestling with the case of Danske Bank
which is engulfed in a money laundering scandal over 200 billion
euros ($235 billion) in payments, many of which the Danish bank
says were suspicious, channelled through its Estonian branch.
Danish, Estonian and British authorities are investigating
the Danske Bank case, with Britain's National Crime Agency
examining the role played by UK-registered companies.
The TJN said the single largest source of financial secrecy
to the EU was the United States, which supplied 4.7 percent of
such services - five times more than all seven countries on the
EU's blacklist combined.
The U.S. Treasury did not immediately have a comment.
Four of the top ten suppliers of financial secrecy to the EU
are members of the bloc themselves, with The Netherlands the
second largest supplier ahead of Luxembourg, the TJN said.
Germany was sixth on the list, supplying twice as much as
Panama, while France was eighth, the research, which is based on
the TJN's own financial secrecy rankings and International
Monetary Fund data, said.
Rather than a having a blacklist, the TJN said the EU and
its member states should work to secure agreements enabling
automatic information sharing with financial secrecy
jurisdictions, and impose a tax on those that refuse.
($1 = 0.8516 euros)
(Reporting by Emma Rumney
Editing by Alexander Smith)
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