• Tax justice

The Pandora Papers, a major journalistic investigation into tax dodging, has unearthed details of trillions in assets hidden in offshore accounts by politicians, arms dealers, bankers, criminals and celebrities.

The EU response? Meh.

Based on the leak of 2.94 terabytes of data, the documents lift the veil on the offshore finance industry and implicate politicians such as Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra, and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair who all feature in the leak.

According to the OECD and the IMF over $14 trillion is held in tax havens globally, about the same amount of money mobilized by all world governments against Covid-19 in 2020. The EU has an instrument to try to fight tax dodging: its blacklist of tax havens. Coincidentally, a review of the black list was on the agenda for a meeting of EU finance ministers, just two days after the Pandora Papers revelations broke. A valuable opportunity to take quick action in response to the scandal? Not really.

Rather than add states implicated in the leak to the black list, the ministers removed three jurisdictions, including the Seychelles, an archipelago named in the papers as one of the main destinations for offshore companies. Indeed, present at the meeting was none other than Hoekstra – a so-called member of the frugal, pro-austerity group of ministers found to be investing in safari parks via offshore firms in British Virgin Islands.

In today’s European Parliament debate, our MEPs slammed EU laxity on tax dodging.