Members of the European Parliament discussing the Paradise Papers revelations this week said that the European Union member states should take steps to clamp down on tax avoidance schemes.
The statement, published on the parliament’s website, came in the aftermath of the latest ICIJ investigation which exposed the systemic use of companies in offshore jurisdictions by wealthy individuals and corporations.
European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs Pierre Moscovici likened professionals that facilitate tax evasion to “vampires.”
“They don’t seem to fear anything except light, so it is up to us to generate that light,” Moscovici said at the meeting in Strasbourg, according to Reuters.
The Paradise Papers findings add to the revelations from ICIJ’s 2016 Panama Papers investigation, which led the European to set up a special PANA committee to probe abusive business practices involving the offshore financial industry.
The PANA committee is expected to vote on its final report in December, and one of the conclusions is that “some EU countries have failed to tackle money laundering and tax evasion,” according to the Parliament’s website.
European finance ministers have also recently announced that by the end of the year they will release a “blacklist” of jurisdictions that are said to facilitate tax avoidance and tax evasion.
“The extensive use of loopholes in tax systems and the intentional or unintentional creation of special tax regimes are harming our economy, harming competition, increasing inequality,” said Czech member Luděk Niedermayer.
United Nations human rights experts also voiced concerns on aggressive tax avoidance, after ICIJ media partners in more than 60 countries published the Paradise Papers last week.
The experts urged UN member states to “stop harmful tax competition” and said law firms that facilitate tax avoidance schemes should “assume their responsibility.”
“Wealthy individuals and international corporations are continuing to engage in unethical practices, reducing their tax burdens to minimal levels by using tax havens, which undermines the realisation of human rights,” said Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, a UN independent expert.
The European Parliament will host a public hearing on the Paradise Papers in Brussels on November 28, which will include presentations from ICIJ’s partners. More details are available on the PANA Committee’s website.