Our reporting on secret tax havens continues to ignite reaction from around the globe and appears to be having a major impact in Europe. The investigative series on offshore secrecy by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the Center for Public Integrity’s international project, draws from a cache of 2.5 million secret records. The work has prompted governments to launch investigations, and politicians and journalists to debate the implications of the records and the reporting.
Among the latest developments:
- The European Commissioner on Taxation Algirdas Šemeta and Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan sent a letter to all EU Finance Ministers, setting out seven key areas for immediate action in improving the fight against tax fraud, evasion and avoidance. Member States were asked to agree on these actions at a conference in May. The letter credits the offshore leaks investigation with "sharpening the focus" on tax fraud, and says it will ask ICIJ to supply names and details of European citizens from its data.
- Finance ministers and central bankers at the G20 meeting in Washington said in a communiqué that automatic exchange of tax-relevant bank information should be adopted as the global standard for overcoming international tax evasion. Skeptical European leaders reportedly "became more enthusiastic" after the public outcry over ICIJ's offshore leaks revelations.
- Transparency advocates, such as Global Financial Integrity, are hailing the recent announcement by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who called for members of the G-8 and the European Union to abolish so-called phantom firms. Cameron has also endorsed public registries of company ownership to “break through the walls of corporate secrecy” that facilitate tax dodging, money laundering and corruption. Battling tax evasion and avoidance is said to be a priority for the G-8 summit that the British Prime Minister will host in June.
The Center’s ICIJ investigative reporting on tax havens will continue throughout the year.