The United Nations must no longer tolerate the scandal of secrecy jurisdictions that facilitate tax evasion, corruption and money-laundering,” said the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order Alfred de Zayas to the General Assembly. Secrecy jurisdictions are also known as tax havens.
De Zayas particularly pointed to the human costs of such actions, noting that trillions of dollars kept offshore to escape taxation take away necessary resources to combat extreme poverty and address climate change. “Corruption, bribery, tax fraud and tax evasion have such grave effects on human dignity, human rights and human welfare that they shock the conscience of mankind. They should be prosecuted nationally and internationally,” he stated.
He described this “systematic looting of society” in a new report presented to the General Assembly where he found that up to $32 trillion USD is held in offshore secrecy jurisdictions around the world.
According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), this costs developing countries more than $100 billion USD per year. In 2011 alone, developing nations lost almost $950 billion USD due to illicit financial flows, including tax evasion. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), this was seven times more than the official development assistance, the official term for aid, provided that year and substantially higher than the estimated costs of achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
“I have no country to fight for; my country is the Earth, and I am a citizen of the World.” – Eugene V. Debs