Press Releases

5 steps governments can take to prevent another Mauritius Leaks scandal

A 5-point plan to stop big corporations cheating poor countries out of billions of dollars in tax revenue, was published by Oxfam today in the wake of the Mauritius Leaks.

When multinational corporations and the super-rich use tax havens to dodge paying their fair share, it is ordinary people, and especially the poorest, who pay the price. The Mauritius Leaks show that tax havens continue not only to exist but to prosper, despite government promises to rein in tax dodging. Oxfam’s plan lists five steps governments can take to tackle tax avoidance and end the era of tax havens.

Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive, said: “Politicians could put a stop to tax scandals if they wanted to. Oxfam has listed five concrete solutions that would prevent another Mauritius Leaks scandal and ensure multinational corporations pay their fair share of tax wherever they do business. Developing countries can revise or void their tax treaties and introduce withholding taxes to better protect their tax revenue, and all governments – rich and poor – agree to set a global minimum effective tax rate on corporate profits.

“There is no time to waste. Developing countries lose an estimated $100 billion a year in tax revenue as a result of tax dodging by multinational corporations, and even more as a result of damaging tax competition between countries. This money is desperately needed to end hunger, tackle the climate crisis, and ensure all children have the chance of an education.”

Oxfam’s 5-point plan to build a fairer global tax system calls on governments to:

(1) Agree new global tax rules in the negotiations led by the OECD under the mandate of the G20 to ensure fair taxation of big corporations. This should include the introduction of a global minimum effective tax rate set at an ambitious level and applied at a country-by-country basis without exception. This would put a stop to the damaging tax competition between countries and remove the incentive for profit shifting – effectively putting tax havens out of business.

(2) Developing countries should not give away their taxing rights. Many treaties result in multinational companies not paying certain types of tax at all in any country. Rich countries have a responsibility in ensuring fair taxation with their investments and the projects they finance. Governments of developing countries can protect their tax base from erosion by revising or voiding their tax treaties, introducing withholding taxes and implementing strong tax anti-abuse rules.

(3) End corporate tax secrecy by ensuring all multinational companies publish financial reports for every country where they operate. The current OECD initiative on country-by-country reporting falls well short of the mark as it does not cover all multinational corporations and it does not require companies to make their financial reports publicly available. This means poor countries are unable to access the information to identify tax cheats. Stronger European proposals on public country-by-country reporting were due to be agreed this year but are being blocked by EU member states such as Ireland, Germany, and Luxembourg.

(4) Agree a global blacklist of tax havens based on comprehensive objective criteria and take strong countermeasures including sanctions to limit their use. Governments have yet to agree an objective global list of tax havens. A farcical OECD-G20 blacklist published in July 2017 features only Trinidad and Tobago. The more comprehensive European Union list omits European tax havens such as Ireland and the Netherlands.

(5) Strengthen global tax governance by creating a global tax body where all countries can work together on an equal footing to ensure the tax system works for everyone. The new round of global tax negotiations (BEPS 2.0) is a historic opportunity to put a stop to damaging tax competition and corporate tax avoidance, and to build a fairer tax system that works for the benefit of all people and not just a fortunate few. Even if the new round of global tax negotiations (BEPS 2.0) delivers positive results, a more inclusive tax body is required to oversee the global governance of international tax matters and strengthen international tax cooperation

ENDS

Oxfam experts are available for interview. Please contact:

Phillip Graham: phillip.graham@oxfam.org / +44 (0) 7841 102535

Alice Dawson-Lyons: alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org / +353 (0) 83 198 1869

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Download Oxfam's 5-point plan here.

#MauritiusLeaks reveal Africa is losing crucial tax revenues to tax haven of Mauritius – Oxfam reaction

 
Tuesday 23rd July 2019
 
Responding to research published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists today that multinational corporations are using the tax haven of Mauritius to avoid paying millions of dollars of tax across Africa, Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive, said:
 
“Mauritius Leaks provide yet another example of how multinational corporations are gaming the system to shrink their tax bills – and cheating some of the world’s poorest countries out of the vital tax revenues they need to get children into school or ensure people can see a doctor when they are ill.
 
“The true scandal is that this – like most tax avoidance schemes – is completely legal. Governments, including Ireland and the UK, must work together to shut down tax havens by ending tax secrecy so that it’s clear where corporations and the super-rich make profits and pay tax. Real political will is urgently needed to ensure meaningful transparency in the reporting of multinational companies’ tax affairs in the form of public country by country reporting. 
 
“This would stop companies artificially moving their profits to tax havens or using loopholes and secret deals to avoid paying their fair share. And it would let the public and governments in developing countries see what’s really going on, providing data to help review and, if necessary, reform corporate tax avoidance practices.
 
“It is not good enough to argue that tax avoidance is permissible because practices fall within the letter of the law. Legal loopholes abuse a broken system that allows the rich to get richer while the world’s poorest suffer.”
 
ENDS
 
CONTACT:
 
Oxfam experts are available for interview, including Peter Kamalingin, Oxfam’s Pan Africa Director. 

Please contact:

ROI:     Alice Dawson-Lyons: alice.dawsonlyons@oxfam.org / +353 (0) 83 198 1869

NI:        Phillip Graham: phillip.graham@oxfam.org / +44 (0) 7841 102535

Notes to the editor:

Mauritius Leaks revealed that multinational corporations artificially but legally shifted their profits out of African countries where they do business to the corporate tax haven of Mauritius, where foreign income like interest payments are taxed at the very low rate of 3 percent. Unfair tax agreements signed between Mauritius and countries in Africa and Europe allow some companies cut their tax bills even further.

Mauritius Leaks is a global investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). For more details see: https://www.icij.org/investigations/mauritius-leaks/
 
Since 2014, a huge number of documents, including the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers scandals, have been leaked by ICIJ unveiling how tax evasion and avoidance have become standard business practice across the globe.
 
Countries from across the globe, including several African countries, are currently participating in a round of international tax negotiations under the OECD-G20 umbrella, including issues such as the introduction of a global minimum effective tax rate. To effectively curb profit shifting, countries must ensure the global minimum effective tax rate is set at an ambitious level and applied at a country-by-country basis without exceptions.

In 2016, Oxfam exposed Mauritius as one the world’s 15 worst corporate tax havens in its report ‘Tax Battles.’ Download a copy of the report here.

On 28 May, 2019, the Tax Justice Network launched the Corporate Tax Haven Index (CTHI). Tax Justice Network Africa cited Mauritius as “among the most corrosive corporate tax havens against African countries”.
 
Company loans from Mauritius and nine other tax havens to African countries total over $80 billion. This means that for every $6 of foreign investment in Africa, $1 was a company loan from a tax haven. Two infographics detailing this information are available for download here.

New Ebola cases in Goma pose risk of disease spreading internationally, says Oxfam Ireland CEO

In response to the World Health Organisation’s declaration of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as a ‘public health emergency of international concern’, Oxfam Ireland’s Chief Executive Jim Clarken said:

“Ebola has now been confirmed in Goma, a major transport hub with a population of more than one million people. The city’s location on the border with Rwanda only increases the risk of international spread of this deadly disease.

“We need more intensified and coordinated action from the international community and this decision by the World Health Organization (WHO) is a major step in attracting the world’s attention to the Ebola crisis in DRC.

“We welcome their recommendation to prioritise community engagement, as we know that getting the trust of communities affected by the virus has been a massive barrier and focusing primarily on a medical approach hasn’t been working.”

Over 13 million people in DRC are facing acute levels of hunger and many have endured decades of violence and conflict. 300,000 people have recently been displaced by renewed conflict in Ituri, an area not far from an Ebola outbreak which nearly a year on has killed 1,600 people.

Clarken added: “The recent Ebola deaths in Uganda also show the devastating potential for Ebola to spread across borders. Vast numbers of people on the move makes it even more difficult to track and treat patients at risk of the virus.

“We echo the WHO’s call for authorities to allow borders to remain open, so people can cross safely at official points where they can be screened for Ebola. Given the intense conflict in the region, there’s a huge risk of people crossing illegally if borders are closed. Millions of people are also dependent on cross border trade and if this lifeline is cut off it would only put poor people at risk of losing their livelihoods, while generating more anger and distrust towards the Ebola response.”

Oxfam’s Country Director in the DRC, Corinne N’Daw, said: “This is also a crucial opportunity to strengthen the public health response and to respond to broader humanitarian needs in the country. Any new funding must be accompanied by stricter accountability to ensure that everyone is working effectively together to end this dreadful outbreak, that has claimed the lives of so many Congolese people.”

Oxfam has been providing assistance in North Kivu and Ituri with public awareness and education on how to keep safe and stop the spread of the disease. Oxfam has also responded to previous outbreaks elsewhere in DRC by providing hundreds of thousands of people with clean, safe water, and working with local community leaders and volunteers to increase understanding of how to prevent Ebola.

NOTES TO EDITORS

Oxfam has spokespeople on the ground and in Ireland. Supporting materials are also available, including photos, testimonies and video of Oxfam’s response. For more information, or to arrange an interview please contact: Phillip Graham on 0044 (0) 7841 102535 / phillip.graham@oxfamireland.org

 

Government should support recommendation on family reunification says Justice Committee

  • Senator Colette Kelleher, Oxfam, Irish Refugee Council and Nasc welcome report by Joint Committee on Justice and Equality.
  • Committee finds that a broader definition of family would be fairer to those fleeing from conflict situations.

 

A group calling for a fairer system to reunify refugee families in Ireland who have been separated by persecution, conflict, violence, or human rights violations, has welcomed a report by the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality. The report recommends that the Government should allow legislation broadening the current definition of family contained in the International Protection Act to progress through the Dáil. 

Senator Colette Kelleher, who initiated the legislation, Oxfam, Irish Refugee Council and Nasc fully endorse the findings, which state that the current regime is too restrictive and that it needs to better reflect the realities of refugee familial relationships.

Currently in Ireland, refugees can only apply to be reunited with immediate family members and children under the age of 18. The proposed amendment would broaden the definition of eligible family members to include; elderly parents, who are often too old and vulnerable to make the arduous journey to flee brothers, sisters, and  children over the age of 18. This would allow families an opportunity to apply to reunite in a place of safety and peace help them to rebuild their lives and fully integrate into their communities in Ireland.

The implications of the current restrictions were recently presented by students from Largy College in Clones, Monaghan, who visited Leinster House to tell the House about the real challenges faced by refugees on their journey to safety. Whilst there, the transition year class took the opportunity to advocate on behalf of fellow Largy College student Lilav, a Syrian teenager who was separated from her sister during the conflict.

In an open letter to officials, Lilav said: "My family and I left Aleppo eight years ago because of the war. We spent two and a half years in Turkey. While in Turkey, my older sister Jihan, married Gmo, who is also from Syria. Jihan followed her husband’s wishes and stayed in Turkey while the rest of my family moved to Greece.  We spent two years living in Greece before moving to Ireland. Jihan and Gmo stayed in Turkey until 2015 before returning to Syria following the death of Gmo’s brother. They had only planned to return to Syria for a few weeks”.

Liav continued “Due to the war, they have been unable to leave. Jihan and Gmo now have two young daughters. Elena aged one and a half and Lilav who is five months old. Syria is not a safe place for my two beautiful nieces to grow up.  Life is extremely difficult for my sister and her young family in Syria. There is no guarantee that Jihan or her family will survive. They are in a lot of danger.”

The narrowing of access to family reunification for people granted international protection under changes to the legislation made in 2015 was recently highlighted by the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission to mark World Refugee Day, stating that the International Protection Act 2015 should be amended to widen the definition of family members to recognise the diversity of family forms in compliance with international human rights obligations.

Senator Colette Kelleher said: “I welcome the Detailed Scrutiny Report by the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality published today. It shows that the ‘Family Reunification’ Bill is an important, humane proposal, deserving of a money message by Government. It is in line with IHREC’s recent recommendations on refugee family reunification. My Bill returns to a more compassionate system in place for nearly two decades and gives desperate families torn apart by war and conflict, the chance to apply to be reunited in safety, puts the process on a firmer footing and within reasonable timescales. The ‘Family Reunification’ Bill recognises the diversity of family forms in compliance with international human rights obligations.”

The ‘Family Reunification’ Bill was initiated to address the restriction introduced by the International Protection Act 2015 and it has passed through all stages of the Seanad with a majority and through the Dáil Second Stage with a large majority of 78-39 in December 2018. However, it was determined that a money message from Government would be required for this Bill to proceed to formal committee stage. Today’s report by the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality recommends that the money message is granted.

 

ENDS

 

CONTACT: Interviews, images and more information available on request contact Nyle Lennon on nyle.lennon@oxfam.org  083 197 5107.

 

Notes to the Editor:

The report by the Joint Committee on Justice and Equality can be downloaded and viewed here: http://bit.ly/2LyGIBj

International Protection (Family Reunification) (Amendment) Bill 2017:  The Bill gives persons who have been granted international protection under the International Protection Act 2015 a statutory entitlement to apply for family reunification in respect of dependent members of the wider family, in addition to their current automatic right of family reunification in respect of the nuclear family.

Money message: In order for Private Members’ Bills, which are deemed by the Ceann Comhairle to involve a charge on the State, to progress to committee stage in the Dáil, they need a ‘money message’ from the government. Historically, this mechanism has rarely been used. However, the denial of a money message has recently been used to block a number of Private Members’ Bills from reaching Committee stage in the Dáil.

 

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G20 Finance Ministers discusstax reforms

 
G20 Finance Ministers are expected to give the green light to a new round of negotiations on international tax reforms at a meeting in Fukuoka, Japan on 8 - 9 June, 2019, in line with OECD recommendations issued in May. 
 
For the first time countries will debate proposals for fundamental reforms such as where a companies’ profits are taxed and whether to set a global minimum effective corporate tax rate.
 
Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive, said:
 
“This new round of global tax negotiations offers a unique chance to put a stop to corporate tax dodging and damaging tax competition. If they get it right this could mark the beginning of a new fairer tax era where poor countries are able to claim their fair share of corporate tax revenues – and release the funds they need to tackle poverty and inequality. Governments must not waste this opportunity.
 
“The UN has said that developing countries lose around $100 billion each year as a result of global corporate tax avoidance. This shortfall leaves developing countries without the revenue to provide the vital healthcare, education and infrastructure needed to tackle poverty and inequality.  Women and girls are most effected by the lack of these services, as recently highlighted by a European Parliament report on taxation policies and gender equality.
 
“If we look at Ireland, our corporate tax rate has attracted international investment that generates much-needed jobs and prosperity. However, the parallel system of tax loopholes needs to be reformed because of the knock-on effect that it has on some of the poorest communities in the world.
 
“A global consensus has seen efforts to reform the global tax system take place at the OECD, where Ireland also participates. G20 Finance Ministers need to take the opportunity this weekend to get behind reforms that will usher in a new corporate tax era.”
 
ENDS 
 
CONTACT: Nyle Lennon, nyle.lennon@oxfam.org,   083 197 5107.
 
Notes to editors
 
An Oxfam briefing note - 'Tax Revolution?' -  which provides more details on the negotiations and what is at stake is available on request.

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