Tax crimes: MEPs want EU financial police force and financial intelligence unit

taxation 2019_

(TJ Dragotta, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Parliament.


The European Parliament on Tuesday adopted a detailed roadmap towards fairer and more effective taxation, and tackling financial crimes.

The recommendations, adopted by 505 votes in favour, 63 against and 87 abstentions, were prepared over a year by Parliament’s Special Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (TAX3). They range from overhauling the system to deal with financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance, notably by improving cooperation in all areas between the multitude of authorities involved, to setting up new bodies at EU and global level.

The numerous findings and recommendations include:

  • The Commission should start work immediately on a proposal for a European financial police force and an EU financial intelligence unit;
  • An EU anti-money laundering watchdog should be set up;
  • A global tax body should be established within the UN;
  • There is a lack of political will in member states to tackle tax evasion/avoidance and financial crime;
  • Seven EU countries (Belgium, Cyprus, Hungary, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and The Netherlands) display traits of a tax haven and facilitate aggressive tax planning;
  • Golden visas and passports should be phased out, with those offered by Malta and Cyprus singled out for their weak due diligence;
  • Denmark, Finland, Ireland and Sweden criticised for maintaining their opposition to the digital services tax;
  • Several European banks have been involved in the Russian ‘Troika Laundromat’ money-laundering, including Danske Bank, Swedbank AB, Nordea Bank Abp, ING Groep NV, Credit Agricole SA, Deutsche Bank AG, KBC Group NV, Raiffeisen Bank International AG, ABN Amro Group NV, Cooperatieve Rabobank U.A. and the Dutch unit of Turkiye Garanti Bankasi A.S;
  • The Netherlands, by facilitating aggressive tax planning, deprives other EU member states of EUR 11.2 billion of tax income;
  • The cum-ex fraud scheme clearly shows that multilateral, not bilateral, tax treaties are the way forward;
  • Whistleblowers and investigative journalists must be much better protected and an EU fund to help investigative journalists should be set up.

A press conference by the committee Chair, Petr Ježek and the two co-rapporteurs, Luděk Niedermayer and Jeppe Kofod, will be held at 15.30 and can be viewed here.

Quotes

The chair of the special committee, Petr Ježek (ALDE, CZ), said: “Member states are not doing enough and in the EU, the Council is clearly the weakest link. Without political will, there can be no progress. Europeans deserve better.”

Co-rapporteur, Luděk Niedermayer (EPP, CZ), said: “The growing interconnectedness of our economies as well as the digitalisation of the economy need to be addressed more systematically as they affect taxation. Yet many areas of taxation must remain a member state competence and those who pay their taxes must not face extra red tape.”

Co-rapporteur, Jeppe Kofod (S&D, DK), said: “This report is the result of the most comprehensive work ever done by the European Parliament on tax evasion and avoidance. Within the EU we need a minimum corporate tax rate, an end to tax competition and to make it more difficult to bring dirty money in.”

Background

Following continued revelations over the last five years (Luxleaks, the Panama Papers, Football leaks and the Paradise papers), the European Parliament decided to establish a Special Committee on Financial Crimes, Tax Evasion and Tax Avoidance (TAX3), on 1 March 2018.

The report adopted today concludes the committee’s year-long mandate, which saw it hold 18 hearings dealing with particular topics of interest, 10 exchange of views with finance ministers and European Commissioners, and four fact-finding missions – to the US, the Isle of Man, Denmark and Estonia, and Latvia.

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