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NGO highlights two areas where Irish government can take meaningful action to help tackle Panama Leaks activity

4 April 2016 -‘Shocking, damning indictment of murky world of offshore finance’, say Christian Aid Ireland.

‘The Panama Leaks are a shocking, spectacular and damning indictment of an offshore financial system that for too long has worked in favour only of the rich and powerful.’ said Sorley McCaughey, Head of Advocacy and Policy at Christian Aid Ireland.

‘It is only those with influence and wealth, with the help of well paid legal firms and accountants, that are able to access these elaborate tax avoidance schemes, leaving ordinary citizens and their governments with fewer and fewer resources with which to provide basic services.’ Mr. McCaughey continued.

‘Ironically the European Commission this month is currently negotiating a proposal with the European Parliament and Member states to make all companies report on their activities in each of the countries in which their subsidiaries operate. But crucially, current Commission proposals would not require companies to report on subsidiaries operating in tax havens. The Panama Leaks blows the Commission proposal out of the water and must force a major rethink of the role Europe can play in tackling this  kind of activity.’ said Mr McCaughey.

Christian Aid has campaigned on issues of tax justice since 2007. Issues that the charity has lobbied on have included the introduction of public “country by country” reporting for multinational companies, as well the establishment of a publicly accessible register of the true flesh and blood owners of phantom companies.

Ireland has agreed to establish a register, but has not made a decision on whether to make this public or not.

‘The Irish government has two golden opportunities to respond to these latest revelations. One, is to introduce a publicly accessible register of the true flesh and blood owners of all companies registered in Ireland, and to push their European partners to do likewise.

‘The second thing is to push the European Commission to introduce full public country by country reporting, including those companies operating in tax havens around the world.’ said Mr McCaughey.

‘From a reputational point of view, it’s sensible that Ireland is seen to be taking opportunities to demonstrate commitment to the highest levels of financial practice.’ Mr McCaughey concluded.

If you would like further information, or an interview with Sorley McCaughey, please contact Florence Mutesasira on 086 1609 405 (m) or 01 406 5535 (d) or fmutesasira@christian-aid.org.

Notes to Editors:

1. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in around 40 countries at any one time. We act where there is great need, regardless of religion, helping people to live a full life, free from poverty. We provide urgent, practical and effective assistance in tackling the root causes of poverty as well as its effects.
2. Christian Aid’s core belief is that the world can and must be changed so that poverty is ended: this is what we stand for. Everything we do is about ending poverty and injustice: swiftly, effectively, and sustainably. Our strategy document ‘From Inspiration to Impact’ outlines how we set about this task.
3. Christian Aid is a member of the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of more than 130 churches and church-related organisations that work together in humanitarian assistance, advocacy and development. Further details at http://actalliance.org 4. Follow Christian Aid Ireland on Twitter: twitter.com/christianaidirl
5. For more information about the work of Christian Aid, visit www.christianaid.ie


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