2015 Financial Secrecy Index Launch: How Opaque Is The United States?

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2015 Financial Secrecy Index Launch Event and Press Briefing

How Opaque Is the United States?

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The FACT Coalition and the Tax Justice Network hosted the U.S. Launch of the 2015 Financial Secrecy Index

The U.S. Ranks 3rd Among the World’s Biggest Secrecy Jurisdictions (i.e. Tax Havens)

Monday, November 2, 2015
1:00 pm to 2:30 pm
Complimentary Coffee and Snacks Will Be Provided

National Press Club
Zenger Room
529 14th Street NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20045

Event Photos: Click here…

Speakers:

Andrés Knobel, Tax Justice Network
Rebecca Wilkins, FACT Coalition
Stefanie Ostfeld, Global Witness
Andrew Hanauer, Jubilee USA Network

Moderator:

Clark Gascoigne, FACT Coalition

***Embargoed Index and Materials are Available for Journalists in Advance***
***Scroll Down for More Info***

About the FSI

In identifying the providers of international financial secrecy, the Financial Secrecy Index (FSI) — updated now for the first time since 2013 — reveals that the traditional stereotype of tax havens is misconceived. The world’s most important providers of financial secrecy are not small, palm-fringed islands as many suppose, but some of the world’s biggest and wealthiest countries — including the United States.

The implications for global power politics are clearly enormous, and help explain why widely heralded international efforts to crack down on tax havens and financial secrecy have been rather ineffective, despite many fine words from G20 and OECD countries: for it is these countries — which receive these gigantic inflows — that set the rules of the game.

The United States is the world’s largest economy and its main financial center in Wall Street is, on some measures, the world’s biggest. It provides secrecy for non-residents, both at a Federal level and at the level of individual U.S. states.  Taken as a whole, the United States provides a very wide range of offshore secrecy services, which led it to rank highly in previous editions of the FSI (most recently, the U.S. was ranked as the 6th biggest secrecy jurisdiction in the 2013 Index).

Gaps in U.S. money laundering laws allow U.S. financial institutions to handle the proceeds of a long list of crimes, as long as those crimes are committed outside the U.S.A significant share of U.S. residential and commercial property is owned by offshore shell companies, under secrecy arrangements that help non-resident foreigners earn income that can be kept secret from the tax and criminal authorities of their home country.

The only realistic way to address these problems comprehensively is to tackle them at the root: by directly confronting offshore secrecy and the global infrastructure that creates it. A first step towards this goal is to identify as accurately as possible the jurisdictions that make it their business to provide offshore secrecy.

This is what the FSI does. It is the product of years of detailed research by a dedicated team, and there is nothing else like it out there.

About the Event

On November 2nd, the Tax Justice Network (a FACT Coalition member) launched the 2015 Financial Secrecy Index, the biggest ever survey of global financial secrecy, which ranks the United States as the 3rd biggest secrecy jurisdiction in the world. This unique index combines a secrecy score with a weighting to create a ranking of the secrecy jurisdictions and countries that most actively promote secrecy in global finance.

The FACT Coalition hosted the U.S. launch of the Index, featuring a keynote presentation from one of the Index’s lead authors, TJN’s Andrés Knobel, who is flew into Washington from Argentina for the event.  Andrés was joined by a distinguished panel of FACT Coalition members, featuring some of the United States’ leading experts in tax and financial secrecy.

The briefing took place on Monday, November 2, 2015 from 1:00 pm to 2:30 pm in the Zenger Room at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.  Complimentary coffee and snacks were provided.

About the Speakers

Andrés Knobel, Tax Justice Network

Download powerpoint here.

Andrés Knobel is a lawyer and consultant with the Tax Justice Network (TJN). He studied Law at the University of Buenos Aires and was an exchange student at Columbia University Law School in New York. He is currently doing a Master’s in Law and Economics at Di Tella University, focusing on tax law and public policy. He specializes in financial transparency and automatic exchange of information. He has been invited to speak at conferences and workshops about these subjects in Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, India, Indonesia, Peru, Spain and the U.S., and has been quoted in The Economist, Bloomberg, and the International Tax Review, among other.

Rebecca Wilkins, FACT Coalition

Rebecca Wilkins currently serves as the executive director of the FACT Coalition, after six years as Senior Counsel for Federal Tax Policy at Citizens for Tax Justice (CTJ).  At CTJ, she focused on all aspects of federal tax policy including corporate, individual, trust and estate, and international taxation. Prior to CTJ, she spent more than 20 years as a practicing CPA specializing in tax. Most recently Rebecca concentrated in individual and financial planning, including trusts and estates, but during her career she worked in almost every field of taxation, with a significant amount of experience in partnership, oil and gas, and employee benefit issues. During 11 years at the international accounting firm of KPMG, Rebecca spent 18 months in D.C. in the Legislative Services division of the National Tax Office, following legislative, regulatory, and judicial developments on tax issues and reporting them to the operating offices.  She has written numerous articles and columns and co-authored the taxation curriculum for the Investment Management Consultants Association. She has a J.D. and a Masters in Taxation from the University of Denver.

Stefanie Ostfeld, Global Witness

Download powerpoint here.

Stefanie Ostfeld is the Deputy Head of Global Witness’ U.S. office. Global Witness is an international advocacy organization that works to break the links between natural resource exploitation and conflict and corruption. Stefanie develops and delivers effective advocacy campaigns in the U.S. with a focus on exposing the ways in which the global financial system enables corrupt public officials to loot and launder state funds. Based in Washington, DC, she advocates for increased corporate transparency, closing loopholes in anti-money laundering laws, effective enforcement of anti-bribery and anti-money laundering statutes and revenue transparency in the oil, gas and mining sector. Ostfeld’s commentary has appeared in many national publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, CNN, ABC News, al Jazeera, The Hill and Huffington Post. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Denver Josef Korbel School of International Studies.

Andrew Hanauer, Jubilee USA

Andrew Hanauer is the Campaigns Director at Jubilee USA, a coalition of religious institutions and 400 faith communities across the United States working to build an inclusive global economy. In that role, Andrew represents Jubilee in policy meetings with the White House, Congress, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and with partner organizations, NGOs, and faith communities. Andrew serves on steering committees at the United Nations and for the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition and speaks regularly at Congressional briefings, the United Nations and to the press.  Since he began directing Jubilee’s outreach efforts, Andrew has grown the organization’s grassroots faith network more than 30 percent and forged key partnerships with prominent faith leaders. Andrew has more than a decade of experience working for the common good and currently serves on the Board of Directors of a charitable organization that funds school fees for poor children in East Africa. 

Clark Gascoigne, FACT Coalition (Moderator)

Clark Gascoigne is the deputy director of the FACT Coalition, where he is responsible for working with the executive director and the Steering Committee in the planning, coordination, and management of FACT.  In addition to supporting the Coalition’s advocacy campaigns, Clark oversees FACT’s communications and consultants, assists in raising financial support, and helps to build the Coalition by recruiting new member groups and deepening the engagement of existing partners in Washington and throughout the country.  He joined FACT after nearly seven years at Global Financial Integrity (GFI), where he served as the organization’s communications director.  In his capacity with GFI, Clark was actively involved with the FACT Coalition since its formation in 2011.  Clark has generated press coverage in more than 50 languages in over 140 countries spanning six continents, and he has both organized and presented at numerous conferences worldwide — in locations as varied as Brazil, France, Mexico, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

RSVP

Click here to RSVP.

Or, contact Jacob Wills at jwills@nullthefactcoalition.org or by phone at +1 (202) 683-4816.

Press Inquiries

This event is open to the press, and media are strongly encouraged to attend.  The 2015 Financial Secrecy Index is strictly embargoed until Monday, November 2, 2015 at 12:00pm (noon) EST / 5:00pm GMT (London).   Embargoed copies of the index and its supporting materials are available for accredited journalists in advance.

Please direct all press inquiries about the event, and all requests for embargoed materials to Clark Gascoigne by email at cgascoigne@nullthefactcoalition.org or by phone at +1 (202) 683-4833.


About the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition

Founded in 2011, the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition unites civil society representatives from small business, labor, government watchdog, faith-based, human rights, anti-corruption, public-interest, and international development organizations. We seek an honest and fair corporate tax code, greater transparency in corporate ownership and operations, and commonsense policies to combat the facilitation of money laundering and other criminal activity by the financial system.