PANA Committee finds resistance to reforms by ‘some member states’

In its final report, following an 18-month probe, the committee called for ‘more dissuasive sanctions against banks and intermediaries’ while also condemning the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia

Members of the PANA committee during their visit to Malta last February
Members of the PANA committee during their visit to Malta last February

The PANA committee – the committee inquiring into money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion – yesterday approved the final report into its 18-month probe.

The probe focused on breaches of EU law by different member states, in relation to money laundering, tax avoidance and tax evasion, and found that a number of EU member states were obstructing progress in this regard.  

The committee’s MEPs expressed their regret at the fact that “several EU member states featured in the Panama Papers”, while stressing that there was a clear “lack of political will among some member states to advance on reforms and enforcement”.

This, they said, was allowing fraud and tax evasion to continue unabated.

The committee was particularly critical of the fact that there was a great deal of secrecy surrounding the work of the Council’s Code of Conduct Group, and urged the European Commission to use its authority to change the unanimity requirement on tax matters, which allowed individual member states to block moves to counter tax evasion.

The committee said it also backed calls for a “common international definition” of an Offshore Financial Centre, tax haven, secrecy haven, non-cooperative tax jurisdiction and high-risk country.

It also called on the Council of Europe to establish a list of member states with “where non-cooperative tax jurisdictions exist”, by the end of the year, adding that its members also supported a proposal for entities with offshore structures to be required to justify the need for such an account to authorities.

The committee stressed the need for “regularly updated, standardised, interconnected and publicly accessible beneficial ownership registers.” 

It also called for proposals to close loopholes “which allow for aggressive tax planning as well as more dissuasive sanctions at both EU and national level against banks and intermediaries that are knowingly, wilfully and systematically involved in illegal tax or money laundering schemes.”

Tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia

The meeting opened with a minute’s silence as a tribute to Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was killed in a car bomb explosion on Monday.

Caruana Galizia had given the committee evidence about her work on the Panama Papers at a meeting in February 2017 in Malta. An oral amendment brought forward by David Casa condemning the “assassination” of the journalist, was overwhelmingly supported.

More in Europe