Thursday, November 9, 2017

Paradise Papers: media ignores the real tax culprits

High in their opulent CBD eyries, the architects of global tax avoidance must be indulging in a quiet chuckle, a nervous chuckle perhaps, because the media has once again missed the forest for the trees.

The Queen, Michael Hutchence, the Russians, Lewis Hamilton, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban have had thousands of column inches devoted to them, blanket coverage; as has the usual bevy of headline corporate names such as Apple, Nike and Glencore, but what of the Big Four accounting firms who sign off on the multinational audits and concoct the tax avoidance strategies as well? What about the masterminds?

The Paradise Papers is a stunning leak, the biggest in history, a damning indictment of the world economic system, and yet another revelation of how the rich are robbing the poor, but KPMG, Deloitte, Pwc and EY – are getting away scot free as usual.

When the story broke, the only mention this reporter could find was in Madrid newspaper El Confidencial:
América del Norte representa la mayor carga de trabajo para la firma (Appleby). Entre sus principales clientes aparecen las mayores consultoras –KPMG, EY y PWC– y grandes bancos y empresas de inversión, incluyendo Citigroup, Bank of America, HSBC, Credit Suisse y Wells Fargo.
This roughly translates the Americans provide most of the work for the “offshore services” law firm at the centre of the leaks, Appleby, and alongside Appleby’s clients are the Big Four consulting firms and the big banks. Deloitte was not named, although it is no doubt there too. EY, PwC and KPMG were named.

In the Australian press and elsewhere however there was very little tampering with the finely burnished reputations of the Big Four. Were they studiously ignored or is this about cowardice, censorship or ignorance as to the way the system works?  (more...)


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