COMPANIES that dodge paying taxes are "robbing God", the
Archbishop of York said on Sunday, on the eve of the G8 summit.
At a special service organised by the IF campaign against global
hunger at St Macartin's Cathedral, Enniskillen, Northern Ireland,
where the summit is being held, Dr Sentamu suggested that, if big
companies could be stopped from "dodging taxes in the two-thirds
world", millions of people could "free themselves from hunger".
"They're dodging millions of pounds every day," he said.
"Indirectly robbing the poor of education, health, food, employment
and sustainable development . . . They are not only robbing people
but God himself, who calls us all to love mercy, do justice and
walk humbly before him."
He called on the G8 to close international tax loopholes.
The Prime Minister has listed tackling tax evasion as one of his
three priorities as president of the summit, alongside trade and
On Saturday, the Government announced that it is to introduce
new rules requiring companies to obtain and hold information on who
owns and controls them. This information is to be held in a central
registry maintained by Companies House, where it will be accessible
to law enforcement agencies and tax authorities. A statement from
the Treasury said that the register would "make it harder to
launder money, evade and avoid tax, finance terrorism, bribe
officials, hide stolen assets and evade financial sanctions".
Whether the register should be open to the public will be the
subject of a consultation this summer.
On the same day, David Cameron heralded an agreement by the UK's
Overseas Territories and Crown dependencies to sign up to the
Multilateral Convention on Mutual Assistance in Tax Matters, an
initative led by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) to clamp down on tax evasion.
After the meeting at Downing Street, the Prime Minister said:
"It is important we are getting our house in order. . . It means
that Britain's voice at the G8 . . . will be stronger."
Territories will only have to share information that they
already collect, and the registers will not be public.
Richard Hay of the International Finance Corporation Forum, told
The Sunday Telegraph, that, given that other
countries did not collect data on beneficial ownership of
companies, "moving ahead of others risks an own goal for the
At the summit, which concludes on Tuesday, Mr Cameron is
expected to urge the other G8 countries to publish action plans on
increasing transparency and sharing information about tax.
Murray Worthy, a campaigner at War on Want, said that there was
"little hope" of Mr Cameron securing a breakthrough on tax at this
G8: "It is an outrage that the Government continues to allow
multinational companies and rich individuals to use Britain's tax
havens to dodge taxes around the world, robbing the world's poorest
countries of vital revenue. . . If his Government had been truly
serious about tackling tax dodging, he would have legislated to
abolish the UK's tax havens, and clamped down on tax dodging
companies like Starbucks, Amazon and Google."
Research by Action Aid suggests that 98 of the companies in the
FTSE top 100 use tax havens. On Sunday, a letter signed by 1500
business group, and companies called for the register of ownership
to be made public. The letter reads: "We call for unanimous G8
support for key measures including automatic information sharing
among all countries, a public registry showing beneficial ownership
of all companies, trusts and foundations, and getting
multinationals to public a country by country breakdown of their
A new Christian Aid report, on behalf of the IF campaign,
published on Friday, argued that the British Overseas Territories
and Crown Dependencies are "at the centre of a global financial
system that encourages crime, corruption and aggressive tax
avoidance in developing countries". It highlights research
suggesting that these territories are the world's largest provider
of foreign direct investment to developing countries,
responsible for more than one in every US$10 invested. This is
in vast disproportion to their GDP. For example, the British Virgin
Islands was a conduit for foreign direct investment more than 860
times greater than the size of its domestic economy in 2011.
The report, Invested Interests: The UK's Overseas Territories'
Hidden Role in Developing Countries, argues that
investment is often structured through these jurisdictions
"specifically to enable tax dodging in poor countries". Other
abuses they facilitate include the laundering of crime money, and
"round tripping", in which money originating in the developing
country where it is to be invested is sent offshore and then
returned disguised as foreign funds to qualify for tax breaks.
Christian Aid is calling for developing countries to be involved
in international tax reform.
The IF campaign issued a statement on Monday afternoon saying that
there were "worrying signs" that developing countries could be
frozen out of a deal on tax dodging. The IF campaign is running a
blog from the G8 Summit.