By Olivia Hanks
Richard Murphy is in some ways an unlikely figure. A tax expert and former accountant, his views are resolutely anti-establishment: asked on air in 2012 to name the greatest threats to democracy, he responded “Deloitte, KPMG, PwC and Ernst & Young”. Yet despite having some vociferous critics (as you would expect for someone whose raison d’être is forcing the wealthy to pay their share of tax), his influence is now being felt: as the architect of country-by-country reporting, which requires corporations to publish figures for every country in which they operate so that it is clear when profit has been moved into low-tax jurisdictions, he has helped to create a framework for taxation transparency worldwide. Country-by-country reporting has now been adopted by the OECD and the EU.Continue Reading
by Gunnar Eigener
“The difference between tax avoidance and tax evasion is the thickness of a prison wall.”
Denis Healey, UK Chancellor 1974-79
The leak of over eleven million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca only really scratches the surface. Like all tax havens, there is a long history of corruption and exploitation to which the tale of Panama is no exception.
In 1937, then US Treasury Secretary, Henry Morgenthau, wrote a letter to President Franklin D Roosevelt, singling out the Bahamas, Panama and Newfoundland as places where:
‘stock-holders have resorted to all manners of devices to prevent the acquisition of information regarding their companies. The companies are frequently organised through foreign lawyers with dummy incorporators and dummy directors, so that the names of the real parties in interest do not appear.’
by George Laver
Following the unexpected leak of around 11.5 million documents from a law firm based in Panama, known as Mossack Fonseca, an upheaval of an internationally unprecedented scale has begun. Just this week in Iceland, protests managed to uproot and depose the Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson following the revelations of his involvement with the law firm. It would seem that Iceland’s now-former PM is at least a little more receptive to the voice of protesters than our own.
It is ours who instead decided to reflex their power first through soft means – rejection of discussion, suddenly producing papers on the matter, or even averting the discourse to another open window – which will eventually filter through the armed wings of government in response to protest, being an increasingly well-armed police force and, if push came to shove, the army. Already in response to the revelations in the UK, there have been protests attended by the thousands, with many more set to occur within the next fortnight. Even amongst the calamity, I feel that there is a key question being missed: What vacuum in public appeal does this present? Tackling the cause at its root, it is this question that much be redressed; although it is formally an issue concerning tax, the deeper principle at hand – and truths which can be demonstrated – surround the very nature of public service.
By Faizal Nor Izham
Two weeks ago, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice opened to mixed reviews from film critics, but nonetheless went on to perform spectacularly at the box office. Just this week, the Panama Papers were also unleashed into the public sphere, from the world’s fourth-biggest offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca. The 11.5 million document leak featured startling revelations on a web of shady offshore accounting, involving twelve prominent world leaders including David Cameron. Implicating a total of 143 world politicians, their families and close associates, the leaks demonstrated the various ways in which elite rulers have been exploiting secretive offshore tax regimes.
by Josh Wilson
The past few weeks have seen a growing debate about the impacts of slowing growth in China on the global economy. But I want to talk about the potential impacts on Zambia specifically.
Zambia — a country most people know exists but are not always 100% sure quite where it is located on a map. For a bit of background, it is a landlocked country the size of France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland combined, with a population of just 14.5 million people. It is situated just above Zimbabwe and below the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was a British Colony until Independence in 1964; Kenneth Kaunda won the first election after independence and ruled the nation from 1964 until 1991 when a multi-party democracy was resurrected and has continued since. Zambia has some of the most pristine nature reserves in Southern Africa, with one of the most concentrated populations of Leopards on the continent.
This beautiful country also has an awful lot of copper.Continue Reading
by Norwich Claimants Union (NCU)
The Norwich Claimants Union represents the coming together of claimants, workers, union representatives and city councillors to oppose and intervene in government policy regarding the deliberate and calculated erosion of the welfare state. To achieve this, the government supported by the mainstream has demonised claimants. They have become the scapegoat for our failing economy and societal degradation.
Since the recession of 2008 this campaign against claimants has gathered momentum. However it is worth remembering that the recession, bank bailouts and austerity programs was the result of the miss selling of financial products, namely derivatives. The effect was to transfer wealth away from our financial system and into the hands of a relatively small number of ruling capitalist elite.Continue Reading