European banks named in Moldova-Russia money laundering and tax evasion scandal

In light of "The Russian Laundromat Exposed" report published today by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and Novaya Gazeta on large-scale money laundering and tax evasion of Russian funds through Moldova and European banks, Lars Koch, Oxfam IBIS Tax Policy Advisor said: 

"Scandals like the Moldova exposé reveal the shady unethical work of tax evaders and how many banks are in cahoots. It is shameful to see European banks again involved in a major global money laundering scandal. In countries like Denmark, banks claim they live up to their social responsibilities, and work against money laundering and tax evasion. But this leak indicates that many banks are still all too willing to contribute to money laundering and tax dodging, and are continuing to deal with anonymous companies registered in tax havens. 

“We live in a world of plenty, but also one of unjust greed - Africa alone loses 14 billion dollars annually in tax revenues from individual fortunes hidden in tax havens. This daylight robbery is happening due to our weak international tax system that lets rich individuals and international corporations abuse tax havens and launder corrupt money. 

“There is a pressing need for more transparency across the tax system. All governments, rich and poor, must work to end tax haven abuse because it is their citizens – their electorate – who lose the most. 

“While the European Union is currently negotiating tax transparency rules for company owners, Oxfam calls on governments to follow the European Parliament’s willingness to have publicly accessible registers of beneficial owners and to envisage the withdrawal of banks' business licenses when they are found to be facilitating money laundering.” 

Notes to editors: 

Link to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project's "The Russian Laundromat Exposed": https://www.occrp.org/en/laundromat/

The case of European banks' involvement in large-scale case of money laundering from Moldova comes in the wake of a number of major cases in the last few years, including Swissleaks (2015) when the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) exposed 60,000 leaked files with details of more than 100,000 clients of the bank HSBC in Switzerland. The data showed how HSBC helped clients set up secret bank accounts to hide fortunes from tax authorities around the world; and the Panama Papers (2016), which is the biggest ever leak with 11.5 million documents from the law firm of Mossack Fonseca in Panama. 

Another important leak in recent years was LuxLeaks, which revealed secret tax treaties from Luxembourg with large multinational companies and resulted in the introduction of several laws to prevent corporate tax avoidance. The involved whistleblowers Antoine Deltour and Raphaël Halet had to face court. Deltour received a suspended 6-month jail sentence and a fine of €1,500. Halet was fined €1,000. The involved journalist Édouard Perrin was acquitted. http://oxf.am/ZbKG 

Contact information: 

Dannielle Taaffe: dannielle.taaffe@oxfaminternational.org / +353 83 869 5416

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