PM Imran Khan calls upon 'tax havens' to return stolen wealth of developing countries

Web Desk
Prime Minister Imran Khan addressing the United Nations International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) panel, on September 24, 2020. — Geo News

Prime Minister Imran Khan while addressing the United Nations International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity (FACTI) panel on Thursday, called upon countries he termed "tax havens" to "adopt decisive actions" and return wealth looted from developed countries.

"We welcome the interim report of the FACTI panel. The figures [...] mentioned in the report are staggering," said the premier.

He said that $1tn is taken out each year "by these white collar criminals".

"$20-40 billion is in the form of bribes received by these corrupt white collar criminals," PM Imran added.

Listing other findings, he noted that $7 trillion in stolen assets is parked in these safe tax haven destinations and $500-600bn is lost each year in tax avoidance by multinational companies.

"This bleeding of the poor and developing countries must stop," the premier urged.

He called upon the international community to "adopt decisive actions", before proceeding to list 9 recommendations:

1. The stolen assets of developing countries including proceeds of corruption, bribery and other crimes must be returned immediately.

2. The authorities in haven destinations must impose criminal and financial penalties on their financial institutions which receive and utilise such money and assets.

3. The enablers of corruption and bribery, such as accountants and lawyers and other intermediaries must be closely regulated, monitored and held accountable.

4. The beneficial ownership of foreign companies must be revealed immediately upon inquiry by the interested and affected governments.

5. Multinational corporations must not be allowed to resort to profit shifting to low tax jurisdictions for avoiding taxation. A global minimum corporate tax could prevent this practice.

6. Revenues from digital transactions should be taxed where the revenues are generated, not elsewhere.

7. Unequal investment treaties should be discarded or revised and a fair system for adjudication of investment disputes set up.

8. All official and non-official bodies set up to control and monitor illicit financial flaws must include all the interested countries.

9. The UN should set up a mechanism to coordinate and supervise the work of the various official and non-official bodies dealing with illicit financial flaws to ensure coherence, consistency and equity in their work.

The premier said that in the backdrop of the recession triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, there is an even greater need for developing countries "to protect and preserve their precious resources".

"Unless these steps are taken, the difference between the rich and poor countries will keep growing. The developing countries will get impoverished and what we see of the current migration crisis will be dwarfed by what will happen in the future," PM Imran warned.

UNGA address on Sept 25

Prime Minister Imran Khan is slated to address the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) via video link on September 25, according to an initial list of speakers officially released on Tuesday.

The general debate of the 193-member assembly, which is traditionally a high-profile annual UN event, opened on September 22. However, this year it is a slimmed-down affair, with world leaders staying away from New York because of the coronavirus pandemic.

They will be contributing set piece speeches via video link.

According to the list, PM Imran, who last year made his debut at the UN as head of state, is the sixth speaker in the afternoon session on September 25.

“I expect that the prime minister will once again raise the cause of the Kashmiri people for self-determination and aazadi [freedom] from Indian oppression," Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN Munir Akram told APP.

Akram added that the prime minister will also talk about Pakistan’s facilitation of and hopes for the peace process in Afghanistan, its successful response to the coronavirus crisis, debt relief for developing countries and other international issues in his wide-ranging address.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to speak on September 26, a day after PM Imran's address.