Fine Gael Helps Trash Corporate Tax Transparency Initiative – Seamus Carthy MEP

Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy has condemned a Fine Gael European Parliament vote on corporate tax transparency, saying the party has helped secretive multinationals avoid public scrutiny of their tax affairs.

This follows a joint vote yesterday evening by the ECON (Economic and Monetary Affairs) and JURI (Legal Affairs) committees in Strasbourg, in which conservative groups voted to insert a major loophole into a progressive report that aimed to ensure major multinationals operating in the EU must publicly report on their earnings, staff and tax payments on a country-by-country basis.

The report originally proposed by the rapporteurs had been praised by anti-tax avoidance groups and development agencies.

Carthy, a member of the ECON committee and GUE/NGL coordinator on the Panama Papers inquiry committee, was joined in the vote by fellow Sinn Féin MEPs Liadh Ní Riada and Martina Anderson, who, despite not being members of the committees in question – ECON or JURI – voted as substitutes for absent GUE/NGL MEPs, in an indication of how seriously Sinn Féin takes this issue.

In a joint statement, the three Sinn Féin MEPs who voted said:

“Sinn Féin welcomes the fact that MEPs voted last night to support certain aspects of the report on ending secrecy for large multinationals and and to make country-by-country financial reporting mandatory and public for these companies.

“But an amendment tabled by the liberal (ALDE), supported by the EPP group, of which Fine Gael is a member party, introduced a massive loophole that you could drive a truck through, and which may make the entire proposal ineffective.

“The European Parliament has undertaken a large amount of work in recent years in the wake of the LuxLeaks and Panama Papers scandals.

“As a result of the public fury at multinationals, MEPs had worked to significantly improve the Commission’s proposal on country-by-country reporting by proposing that companies must report this financial information for each jurisdiction they operate in globally – not only EU or (future) blacklisted jurisdictions.

“Last night the conservatives voted to weaken the Parliament’s position from calling for global reporting to include a loophole that will allow massive multinationals to avoid reporting vital information – so long as they claim this is due to ‘commercial sensitivity’.

“This loophole undermines the entire proposal, and it is shameful that Fine Gael and their EPP colleagues have supported it.

“Brian Hayes, as a member of the ECON committee who voted on this text, needs to explain why he supports this secrecy clause when the Irish Government claims continually that it supports maximum transparency on corporate tax.

“The weakened text was so unacceptable that MEPs rejected a motion to enter into inter-institutional negotiations with the Commission and the Council, and it will go straight to the Parliament plenary, where we sincerely hope that it will be rejected by the full house of MEPs.”

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