ACCA welcomes the European Commission’s response to the Panama papers scandals
Global accountancy body ACCA (The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) commends the new EC anti-money laundering and tax transparency proposals
Chas Roy-Chowdhury, head of Taxation at ACCA says: “As a global accountancy body, ACCA is a longstanding supporter of international financial transparency and uniformity in the disclosure We are in favour of ensuring stringent and uniform rules across the EU and in countries doing business with the EU, including sanctions such as taking back assets and stiff prison sentencing regimes. ACCA thus welcomes the publication of the European Commission ‘s proposal aimed at harnessing the link between Anti Money Laundering and Tax Transparency rules. We support the amendments brought to the fourth anti-money laundering Directive as well as the related revision of the Directive on Administrative Cooperation in the field of taxation”.
“In particular, we are pleased to see proposals to widen the scope of the information accessible to Financial Intelligence Units, their role is crucial, as well as their steady cooperation. We also share the Commission’s view that, in our digitalised era, it is necessary and urgent to introduce due diligence requirements for the exchange of virtual currencies, such as bit coin, and to strengthen the verifications and controls on pre-paid instruments. These are important in tackling black market and terrorist financing”, Chas Roy-Chowdhury adds
Similarly, ACCA commends the move towards more transparency and better access to beneficial ownership information, in line with the G20’s call to the OECD and FATF for a new global transparency standard for beneficial ownership.
Chas Roy-Chowdhury explains: “We also we command the work undertaken by the Commission in examining the most appropriate framework for the implementation of the automatic exchange of information on beneficial ownership at EU level. The proposal to integrate it into the binding tax transparency framework already in place in the EU could indeed make sense. It is vital to stop global gaps in exchange of information, and we would recommend imposing fines on member states which do not meet requirements for timely and accurate information exchange”.
ACCA also welcomes the forthcoming public consultation on how to increase oversight and put in place effective disincentives for promoters and enablers of aggressive tax planning schemes. It is in line with OECD’s BEPS Action 12 recommending that countries should require tax payers and professions like tax advisors, legal advisors, or financial intermediaries, to disclose any aggressive tax planning schemes that they use or promote.
“We look forward to bringing constructive input to the consultation. We are convinced that further work is needed to help governments identifying and blocking unjustifiable or illegal offshore activities aimed at evading tax and also, importantly, to address existing legal loopholes currently allowing these practices. For instance, the UK has developed PCRT ( Professional Conduct in Relation to Taxation) and we suggest that this could be considered in other EU member states. Where a professional has not complied with the rules, he should be reported to his/her professional body for action. The unaffiliated should be effectively regulated by each national tax authority ”, Chas Roy-Chowdhury points out.
ACCA is also naturally in favour of promoting higher tax good governance standards worldwide. We therefore agree with the principle of an EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions, while urging the Commission to also work closely with the OECD for the development of an ambitious and effective international list.
“We would recommend naming and shaming sub-standard Governance, as well as promote Country to Country peer review processes”, Chas Roy-Chowdhury adds.
On the issue of the protection of whistle-blowers, ACCA shares the Commission views that is very important to adequately protect people who are acting in good faith when exposing misconduct, alleged dishonest or illegal activity occurring within an organisation and representing a serious threat or harm to the public interest.
“The ability to speak up for bona fide whistle-blowers - here I mean the ones who do not make financial gain from the disclosures- matters now more than ever. Scandals like Lux leaks or Panama papers have highlighted the important role of the whistleblower in exposing corruption and malpractice. But they also highlighted just how difficult it is to expose such issues. ACCA and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) recently teamed up to discover how different organisations create an environment in which individuals are able to voice their concerns in a report called effective speak-up arrangements for whistleblowers”, Chas Roy-Chowdhury concludes.
Notes to Editors
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ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. It offers business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.
ACCA supports its 188,000 members and 480,000 students in 181 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. ACCA works through a network of 95 offices and centres and more than 7,110 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through its public interest remit, ACCA promotes appropriate regulation of accounting and conducts relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.
Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. It believes that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. ACCA’s core values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and it ensures that through its range of qualifications, it prepares accountants for business. ACCA seeks to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating its qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers. More information is here: www.accaglobal.com