Remarks by Angel Gurría
26 November 2019 - Paris, France
(As prepared for delivery)
Vice President, Ministers, Commissioners good morning and thank you all for coming. A warm welcome too to the World Bank and CIAT.
A year ago, in Punta Del Este (Uruguay) Latin American ministers met to discuss how to strengthen regional efforts to combat tax fraud and corruption. This meeting concluded with the signing of the Punta Del Este Declaration. To date, eight Latin American jurisdictions have adhered to this declaration and others will join this week.
The Declaration was a bold initiative and demonstrated a strong political will to move forward on tax transparency in the region. Now, we need to transform that will into a reality. We have to move forward to implement the objectives of the Declaration.
We envisaged progress on some important tracks. First, to intensify use of the global infrastructure for exchange of information.
The infrastructure is already in place. All of the jurisdictions here today have signed and ratified the Multilateral Convention. Eight have fixed bank secrecy issues since 2009 and ten are now committed to automatically exchange CRS information. Beneficial ownership registries are spreading around the continent, with already six jurisdictions having established them.
But the number of outgoing requests from Latin American jurisdictions is still low and full advantage is not being taken of data received automatically.
It was estimated some years ago that more than 20% of financial wealth ($700 billions) in Latin America is held offshore resulting in more than $20 billions revenue losses annually and that’s just on the investment income. Tax administrations need to scale up their efforts, more auditors need to be trained, targets should be set and information has to be used to its full extent.
A second track recognized that the transparency and exchange of information standards can also be used as a tool to fight other financial crimes and illicit flows.
Here, you entered into borderlands of current practice. We must make the process for information crossing those borders more efficient. You have an opportunity to set an example for rest of the world on how a cross cutting approach to exchange of information could bring benefits in the fight against corruption and other financial crimes. Without a “joined up government” approach you will not win these fights.
The Punta Del Este Declaration suggests concrete steps in terms of self-reviews against the 10 Global Principles in fighting tax crimes and on wider use of information exchanged. The Global Forum has been active in supporting your efforts to implement the standards. I want to tell you that you can also draw on all the expertise here at the OECD as you move to take these steps. We will fully support your efforts. I know the other international organisations here are behind you as well.
I am eager now to hear from you the on the actions proposed in your national action plans to implement the Punta Del Este Declaration. And we will discuss later where we can go from there.
I am confident that with our collective commitment we will deliver great things over the next few years.