Financial body’s president urges global leaders to increase transparency to counter tax evasion, graft.
Tax evasion through international tax havens and other illicit transfers of money undermine the fight against global poverty, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said Thursday.
Kim said the bank is “very concerned” about illicit financial flows, amid intense attention on the recent leak of the Panama Papers showing how powerful officials and businesses in many countries make use of thousands of anonymous companies in tax-free centers.
“This is a great, great concern,” Kim said as he opened the Spring Meetings of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. “When taxes are evaded, when state assets are taken and put into these havens, all of these things can have a tremendous negative effect on our mission to end poverty and boost prosperity.”
He said leaders in developing countries regularly ask him for help in tracking down the exodus of cash, whether to avoid taxes or to hide graft. He said that one answer is increasing transparency.
“The message I would send is that transparency is not going to move backwards. The world is going to become only more and more transparent as we move forward. So I would just say, be very careful.”
The publication earlier this month of the Panama Papers, a dossier of files on anonymous companies set up by a Panama law firm, has sparked a new push for ending the secrecy offered by tax havens worldwide.