Washington Post

Want to end corruption? Crack down on tax havens.


The U.S. conceals vast sums of foreign loot behind opaque shell companies in Delaware and Nevada and stands aloof from a new global transparency scheme led by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to start sharing banking data beginning in 2017. The OECD’s “Common Reporting Standard” will include most major tax havens — but the United States has not signed on. A widely referenced Financial Secrecy Index (which I helped produce) ranks the U.S. as the third most important tax haven worldwide after Switzerland and Hong Kong, based on a secrecy score weighted for size. Britain only ranks 15th, but it would be at the top if its offshore satellites like BVI and Cayman were included.

Despite Buhari’s inspiring comments, the summit’s outcome was, overall, “underwhelming,” as transparency campaigner Oxfam put it, and did little to increase global efforts to crack down on tax havens.

Which isn’t surprising. Because powerful countries like the United States and the United Kingdom are themselves major tax shelters, we don’t think of tax havens as major contributors to corruption. But we should.

(Read the entire piece here.)