#106 How secrecy kills: the Beirut explosion
#105 A reparational justice journey
#107 Taxing Wall Street

In this episode of the Tax Justice Network’s monthly podcast, the Taxcast:

  • We look at the terrible Beirut explosion and how the story of tracing those responsible tells us everything that’s wrong with our world.
  • Plus, we discuss what President-elect Biden’s win could mean for tax and economic policies: one thing with big potential could be tackling monopoly corporate power which has cross-party support.

The transcript is available here (may have small errors from some automated transcription)

Featuring:

“This is what I can’t tolerate anymore, the lies by these people that all day long are talking about free speech and the fight against corruption. This cannot continue. Every story we are looking at now today in the Arab world will have a connection to one of those safe havens, and God knows how can you find the real owners if every jurisdiction says, sorry, we can’t give out any data, helping people that should be exposed. You know, your country and US and all these offshores are providing all the secrecy and the ability to shield the beneficial ownerships and the structures of these companies.”

~ Rana Sabbagh, OCCRP, the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and founder of the Arab Reporters for Investigative Journalism

“It is not okay anymore in 2020 to own a business, to own a ship that you have deliberately hidden the ownership of through hugely complicated structures to either avoid tax or minimise your tax liability or reduce your safety standards.”

~ Thom Townsend, Open Ownership

“Joe Biden and his team must address the colossal power of the corporate world, which after decades of mergers and acquisitions has become super concentrated into the hands of monopoly corporations in virtually all sectors…it ranks alongside all the other huge priorities facing the incoming administration, including climate crisis and tackling inequality and restoring trust in democracy.”

~ John Christensen, Tax Justice Network

Further Reading:

  • A Hidden Tycoon, African Explosives, and a Loan from a Notorious Bank: Questionable Connections Surround Beirut Explosion Shipment, OCCRP coverage
  • Read more about beneficial ownership here.
Jargon
Beneficial Owner

The person who actually benefits from the income or capital associated with owning something, and/or on whose behalf a transaction is being conducted. They are often different from legal or nominee owners, who may just be proxies who get no benefit from the asset, whose identity is used to hide the real beneficial owner.

Secrecy Jurisdiction

A tax haven or secrecy jurisdiction is a place that deliberately provides an escape route for people or entities who live or operate elsewhere. They shield them from whatever taxes, criminal laws, financial regulations, transparency or other constraints they don’t like. Ordinary people whose lives are affected by tax haven laws are not consulted on these laws because they live in other countries: they have no say in how those laws are made, thus undermining their democratic rights.

Tax Haven

A tax haven or secrecy jurisdiction is a place that deliberately provides an escape route for people or entities who live or operate elsewhere. They shield them from whatever taxes, criminal laws, financial regulations, transparency or other constraints they don’t like. Ordinary people whose lives are affected by tax haven laws are not consulted on these laws because they live in other countries: they have no say in how those laws are made, thus undermining their democratic rights.

Offshore

A tax haven or secrecy jurisdiction is a place that deliberately provides an escape route for people or entities who live or operate elsewhere. They shield them from whatever taxes, criminal laws, financial regulations, transparency or other constraints they don’t like. Ordinary people whose lives are affected by tax haven laws are not consulted on these laws because they live in other countries: they have no say in how those laws are made, thus undermining their democratic rights.

5 Rs of Tax

Revenue, to fund public services, infrastructure and administration.
Redistribution, to curb inequalities between individuals and between groups.
Repricing, to limit public “bads” such as tobacco consumption and carbon emissions.
Representation, to build healthier democratic processes, recognising that higher reliance of government. spending on tax revenues is strongly linked to higher quality of governance and political representation.
Reparation, to redress the historical legacies of empire and ecological damage.

More episodes
Jan 26
2024
The Taxcast
#139 People Power
People power for tax justice is on the rise like never before. We kick off 2024 with the first in-depth case studies on campaigns for tax reform from around the world. Strategies, successes, limitations, and what we can learn from it all. Plus: Malawian poet and Senior Tax Investigations Officer Robert Chiwamba pays tribute to tax collectors everywhere.
View full episode info
Dec 21
2023
The Taxcast
#138 Overturning a 100 year legacy: the UN tax vote
In an extended Taxcast edition this month, a century of tax rule setting by the former imperial powers has been overturned: we look at the UN vote on global tax reform. Taxcast host Naomi Fowler follows events at the UN, the failed efforts to block it and explores what it all means with Alex Cobham of the Tax Justice Network.
View full episode info
Dec 8
2023
The Taxcast
#137 The People vs Microsoft
On the Taxcast this month, the story of what happened when the US tax authorities, the IRS, decided to crack down on Microsoft, one of the world’s biggest tech companies. Worthy of a thriller movie with its twists and turns, there are many lessons for governments worldwide. And it’s not over yet.
View full episode info
Oct 26
2023
The Taxcast
#136 Drug war myths, Part 2
The US government has spent an estimated $1 trillion on their ‘war on drugs.’ But, over 50 years later, the cross-border flows of illegal drugs, arms and money have increased. In the second part of a two part series (part 1 available here) we look at the failed ‘war on drugs,’ the movement to decriminalise, regulate and tax, opportunities and challenges for lower income nations, and the role of tax justice.
View full episode info
Sep 28
2023
The Taxcast
#135 Drug war myths, Part 1
The US government has spent an estimated $1 trillion on their 'war on drugs.' But, over more than 50 years, the cross-border flows of illegal drugs, arms and money have increased. It's a mess. And it didn't need to be this way. We look at the failed so-called 'war on drugs' and how to stop wasting precious lives. In part one of a two part series, we start with the supposed 'goodies' and the 'baddies' and the real crime story.
View full episode info
Jul 27
2023
The Taxcast
#134 Who owns the climate crisis?
We're experiencing the hottest global temperatures ever recorded. For millions of us, the climate crisis is already hitting hard. And we need to know, we must know - WHO are the beneficial owners of the climate crisis? It's surprisingly difficult to find out.
View full episode info