Labour MEPs: Toughened EU laws on money laundering will hit Putin and his cronies where it hurts

Labour MEPs today urged the European Banking Authority and European Central Bank to toughen EU anti-money laundering laws to stem the flow of Kremlin-linked money into Europe, especially the City.

At a meeting today of the European Parliament tax committee, Labour’s Neena Gill MEP asked ECB deputy director general Roberto Ugena about the possibility and potential effectiveness of a ban on the selling of Russian bonds in the City.

Ms Gill also asked about updating the single supervisory mechanism to give a central body greater powers to effectively tackle money laundering; the ECB's 'fit and proper' board test; the revoking of licences of credit institutions; and the ability of banks' IT systems to flag suspicious transactions.

Neena Gill MEP, member of the European Parliament economic and monetary affairs committee and member of the tax committee, said:

“Billions and billions are laundered through Europe every year, much of it through the City, most of it Russian, oligarch after oligarch linked to Putin who see the EU, and UK in particular, as a soft touch to clean their cash.

“The current laws need strengthening - regulatory authorities must be given more powers to identify, investigate and punish those suspected of money laundering, with banks sanctioned for failing to carry out due diligence of dodgy capital and property.

“The UK must back any new measures, and must also clamp down on Russian oligarchs who use British Overseas Territories to stash their money, instead of constantly trying to delay, water down, or outright oppose anti-money laundering legislation.”

Thursday, April 26, 2018

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Labour MEPs: On Facebook, while others just unlike, the EU acts, clamping down on their tax dodging

Labour MEPs have backed new EU proposals to clamp down on tax avoidance by tech giants like Facebook, with the Commission today unveiling plans to ensure digital companies pay tax on profits in the country where they are generated in the same way as traditional, ‘brick-and-mortar’ companies are taxed.

The proposed measures would enable national governments to tax profits that are generated in their jurisdiction even if a company does not have a physical presence there. Digital platforms will be deemed to have a taxable 'digital presence' in a country if they satisfy one of the following criteria: an annual turnover of at least €7 million (£6.1m); more than 100,000 users in in a taxable year; or more than 3,000 business contracts for digital services are created between the company and business users in that period.

Last week, the European Parliament backed plans for a common corporate tax base (CCTB) and common consolidated corporate tax base (CCCTB) that will ensure digital companies such as Facebook pay taxes where their activity takes place.

Neena Gill MEP, member of the European Parliament economic and monetary affairs committee and member of the tax committee, said:

“The Cambridge Analytica scandal shows what can happen when companies feel they are above the law, under-regulated and severely undertaxed. Today’s proposals send a very clear message to digital companies like Facebook: the days of paying low levels of taxation on ever-greater profits are coming to an end - companies that seek to exploit loopholes and inconsistencies will no longer be able to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

“I welcome the fact that President Tajani has written to Mark Zuckerberg to come to the European Parliament and be held accountable to European citizens through their MEPs. Companies like Facebook have clearly flouted the rules, misusing data and minimising their tax contribution.”

Alex Mayer MEP, member of the European Parliament economic and monetary affairs committee, added:

“The fair taxation of digital giants like Facebook is long overdue. The exposé of mass data harvesting and their links to Cambridge Analytica makes it even more urgent that action is taken to ensure they respect users’ privacy and are no longer allowed to act outside the law and pay minimal levels of tax on maximal levels of profit.

“Every day, 20 billion emails and 150 million social media posts are written, and 650 million online searches are carried out in the EU. This is 2018. Yet on average, digitalised businesses face an effective tax rate of only 9.5 per cent, compared to 23.2% for traditional companies. The UK must back these new proposals, and keep them if it leaves the EU.”

Labour MEPs: UK must not block new EU plans to ensure digital companies don’t avoid tax

The UK must not block new EU proposals that will make it harder for companies like Google and Facebook to avoid paying tax - and keep any new measures if Britain leaves the EU, Labour MEPs warned as the European Parliament voted today to back the plans.

At present, there is a €5 billion (£4.4bn) hole in public finances due to the severe under-taxation of Google and Facebook. The proposals will enable tax to be collected on profits that are generated through digital activity within a country’s jurisdiction, by introducing the notion of a digital permanent establishment, so that digital companies can be taxed as if they had a physical location.

The European Parliament recently convened a special committee to investigate tax avoidance in the digital sector, focusing on tax avoidance and evasion related to the digital economy, circumvention of VAT, methods used in the EU tax blacklist of third-country tax havens, progress in removing harmful EU tax regimes, and the impact of bilateral tax treaties.

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Neena Gill: Corbyn was right about bankers’ pay – now it’s time to give women the rewards they deserve

Some of Jeremy Corbyn’s ideas pass through the same three stages that Schopenhauer said applied to all truths. Firstly, they are dismissed. Secondly, they are violently opposed. And thirdly, they are accepted as self-evident.

Before the last general election was announced, the Labour leader called for a wage cap on bosses of government contractors. He said executives should earn a maximum of 20 times the wage of their lowest paid worker: likely about £350,000. At the time, critics scoffed that the idea was “utterly mad”. Since then, opposition from fat cats has grown, especially from US banks.

Unsurprisingly, the world has now moved onto the acceptance stage. Or, at least, nearly so. While not exactly the same as Corbyn’s proposal, my colleagues in the European parliament have proposed a “remuneration ratio”, according to which banks must determine the ratio of pay for individual board members through a comparison with the median pay of staff. It is not fair that the richest in society continue to get richer, while wages for normal people are set to stagnate for the next 20 years. Top bankers earning huge bonuses should be aware that the cleaners and cooks who work on different floors are the taxpayers who helped bail them out in 2008.


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Europe is turning its back on the Rohingya

If we don’t act, we risk complicity in genocide.


While we Europeans squabble over internal divisions, our inaction in Myanmar risks making us complicit in genocide. Mass shootings and cut-throat executions at home have forced 625,000 Rohingya to flee their homes.

Most have moved to neighbouring Bangladesh, which has taken the burden in a way that puts most European nations’ to shame, after our own handling of the Syrian refugee crisis. Yet despite Bangladesh's vast efforts, there is the need for a linked-up, European response.

While aid organisations have made it clear that more financial support is vital, money alone will not buy us a clear conscience. The EU Foreign Affairs Council’s failure yet again to adopt - or even discuss - decisive measures to increase pressure on the authorities and military in Myanmar reflects badly on us all.

The UN has referred to the crisis as potential ‘genocide’, but let’s not be in doubt, there is no ambiguity here. The former UN general Romeo Dallaire has now gone as far as to describe the crisis as ‘very deliberate genocide’. Now there is not just a moral, but a legal obligation for the international community to act.

It’s vital that we learn lessons from past displacements of Rohingya to Bangladesh, including opposing forced relocation. This means taking a stand against the repatriation deal that is explicitly based on the 1992-1993 repatriation pact, until the right conditions are in place.


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