UN expert calls on new boss to fight Tax Havens

The new United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, is being asked by one of the body’s human rights experts to call a world conference on tax avoidance and evasion, with a view to abolish all tax havens.

The UN’s independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, said that Guterres’ appointment as the new UN leader offered “a unique opportunity to advance the fight against tax evasion and illicit financial flows” when the world’s attention is on these crucial problems.

“Trillions of dollars necessary for combatting extreme poverty and addressing climate change are being kept offshore, thus escaping just taxation and effectively stealing hundreds of billions of dollars each year from the public treasuries,” he stated.

He also noted: “Widespread tax avoidance, tax evasion, tax fraud and profit-shifting, facilitated by bank secrecy and a web of shell companies registered in tax havens, are now routinely documented, but their true human cost is only revealed progressively”, following the publication of his report to the General Assembly on these matters.

According to him, a growing number of human rights experts were pointing to tax abuse as a human rights issue.

“Corruption, bribery, tax fraud and tax evasion have such grave effects on human dignity, human rights and human welfare that they shock the conscience of mankind. They should be prosecuted nationally and internationally,” de Zayas said.

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