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"Panama Papers" spark tax haven debate

Wednesday, April 06, 2016 - 01:39

France plans to put Panama back on its blacklist of tax havens in the wake of the ''Panama Papers'' affair. As Sara Hemrajani reports, it's left other tax havens scrambling to show their transparency.

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The fallout from the "Panama Papers" keeps spreading. France now says it will put Panama back on its blacklist of tax havens. The French Finance Minister calling the country a "non-cooperative" tax jurisdiction. The major document leak from law firm Mossack Fonseca has sparked fresh debates on the existence and purpose of tax havens. And while many think of the Caribbean nations, campaigners say these financial centres are found across the world. SOUNDBITE: Maggie Murphy, Anti-corruption advocate, Transparency International, saying (English): "Some of them are in places you might not imagine. So for example, Delaware in the U.S. is commonly known as a tax haven or secrecy jurisdiction. And so it's not just these islands in the sun. In terms of a ranking, some seem to be doing better than others. But there are some really simple solutions that could be in place across the board that would just help raise the standard and make sure that those tax havens themselves are not complicit in corruption, money laundering, crime." Tax havens offer wealthy individuals and companies low or zero tax rates and a high degree of anonymity. Generally their activities are legal, taking advantage of complex accounting systems and loopholes. SOUNDBITE: Michael Hewson, Market analyst, CMC Markets, saying (English): "The UK tax code is around 20,000 pages long. That's 20 times longer than the longest novel 'War and Peace'. Contrast that with Hong Kong's tax code which is 276 pages long. The more complex the tax code, then the more likely it is that you will have these tax havens." Many popular havens have tightened rules in recent years, including Switzerland, Luxembourg and Singapore. But places like Panama and the British Virgin Islands have been criticised for not following suit - they may now have to.

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"Panama Papers" spark tax haven debate

Wednesday, April 06, 2016 - 01:39