October 2016 G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting: remarks on taxation

 

G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors working dinner

Remarks by Angel Gurría,

Secretary-General, OECD

Washington DC, 6 October 2016

(As prepared for delivery)

 

 

Minister Lou, Ministers and Governors, Colleagues,

 

For several years now, the OECD has worked closely with you, bringing our decades of experience on tax transparency and international co-operation to support the powerful agenda you have set to drive progress in tackling tax evasion and avoidance.

 

While we have made a significant leap forward, setting high international standards and developing state-of-the-art tools to ensure the benefits of transparency can be accessed across the globe, we know that the challenges continue to evolve. The use of shell companies, complex trust structures and nominee agents to hide the true identity of the owners of assets, shielding them from tax authorities and other investigators of financial crimes, has been undermining our tax system and eroding trust in governments.

 

The need for reliable access to up-to-date beneficial ownership information is a cross-cutting issue. We have worked with the FATF to ensure that their standard, a single global standard, on beneficial ownership information is incorporated into the tax transparency standards, and its implementation for tax purposes is monitored by the Global Forum across its 135 members. 

 

As per your mandate in April this year, the FATF and the Global Forum have outlined their proposals on further work on beneficial ownership information – those of the Global Forum are set out in my report to you for this meeting. They include focused peer reviews, with a particular emphasis on beneficial ownership, enhanced co-operation between the Global Forum and the FATF and engagement with the FATF and the OECD to develop best practices and provide technical assistance.

 

To complement those initiatives which focus on improving implementation and monitoring of the anti-money laundering and tax standards and to provide a co-ordinated and comprehensive approach to beneficial ownership, the OECD is proposing a three-pronged approach:

  • First, our Organisation stands ready to provide a gap analysis that will determine whether there are gaps between tax compliance needs (both civil and criminal) for beneficial ownership information, and the relevant FATF standards for AML (anti-money laundering) – and, where gaps are identified, suggest possible solutions taking cost benefit considerations into account.
     
  • Second, we can also use our unique experience in creating the Common Transmission System for automatic exchange of financial account information, to explore the options for a model approach to collecting and storing beneficial ownership information, for possible use by other repositories of ownership information such as registries, and designated non-financial businesses and professions.  We are moving into an era of big data where it will be key that data is electronically searchable and follows a common structure.
     
  • Third, we would map the current state of play with respect to the legal ability of countries and jurisdictions to share or access beneficial ownership information, ensuring that the right legal and procedural framework is in place for this information to be shared domestically between government agencies, as well as internationally.  In a globalised world a silo-ed approach is not sustainable, and I encourage you to endorse this path forward. For several years this has been the thrust of our work on improving interagency cooperation under the Oslo Dialogue.

 

Ministers, thank you for your support for our contributions to date, and I look forward to our next meeting when I will deliver a more comprehensive update on the developments in the international tax agenda – on BEPS, on tax transparency, and on tax policy to support structural reforms and enhance certainty.