A UN tax authority could be formed under new secretary-general
A ranking United Nations official exhorted the General Assembly to abolish tax havens amid a growing backlash against illicit financial flows in the wake of damning document leaks.
Alfred de Zayas, the UN’s Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, opined that vast amounts of wealth escape just taxation and effectively steal billions of revenues each year from public treasuries. “Trillions of dollars necessary for combatting extreme poverty and addressing climate change are being kept offshore,” he said last week in a statement.
De Zayas’ comments echo those made earlier this month by Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, and members of the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee, Obiora Okafor and Jean Ziegler, on the need for a UN tax authority specifically mandated to address the issue of secretive offshore accounts.
A move to outlaw tax havens would most probably gain traction when Secretary-General-designate António Guterres assumes office. “The choice of Mr. Guterres as the next UN Secretary-General offers a unique opportunity to advance the fight against tax evasion and illicit financial flows, at a moment where the world is paying increasing attention to these crucial issues,” de Zayas said.
Ecuador’s Foreign Minister Guillaume Long also addressed the subject before the General Assembly last month. “To put an end to tax havens, to have these critical resources for our development, we have to wage a political battle,” he said.
Action against tax havens gained momentum this year after a wave of documents traced to the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca unveiled a global network of offshore entities willing to serve as stores of illicit wealth.