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Swiss take fall as US and UK 'havens' thrive: report

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Swiss take fall as US and UK 'havens'  thrive: report
Svilen Milev
10:56 CEST+02:00

Despite the recurrent finger-pointing aimed at Switzerland for providing a haven to tax dodgers, the Tax Justice Network has found that the US and the UK hold over 50 percent of the global offshore market.

Switzerland has been the big loser in the war on tax havens, the newspaper Tribune de Genève reports.

According to the Tax Justice Network, a British organisation made up of accountants, lawyers, academics and others, for all the criticism and worldwide attention, Switzerland is only responsible for about 6 percent of the offshore trade.

“When you read the statement which followed the G20 in April 2009, we find that the emphasis is made on banking secrecy, a Swiss concept, while trusts, a typically Anglo-Saxon legal tool, are forgotten,” Nicholas Shaxson, writer and researcher for the Tax Justice Network, said.

Shaxson is a British author best known for his investigative books, Poisoned Wells (2007) and Treasure Islands (2011), the latter of which is an investigation into the harmful effects of tax avoidance.

Having completed his research, Shaxson now believes that the US and the UK are the biggest tax havens in the world.

According to his survey, the US is responsible for approximately 21 percent of offshore business, while the UK is responsible for about 20 percent. A further 10 percent derives from trade carried out through Britain’s dependent territories, such as the Cayman Islands, and crown dependencies Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man.

The survey also indicates that both the US and UK meet the four criteria used by the OECD to designate tax havens. In each of the countries, possibilities exist to pay little or no tax; there is a lack of transparency in the tax system; there is a lack of information exchange with other countries; and many companies carry out fictitious activities. 

But these countries have never been formally investigated. And now, after persistent pressure from the US, Switzerland has lost its bargaining power and is no longer in a position to point the finger back, writes Tribune de Genève.

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