Singing from the same hymn sheet

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The world is beginning to unite behind The Tax Justice Network's themes:

Freer, more open and better integrated financial markets have benefited people and companies around the world. They have lowered the cost of capital and encouraged greater competition in the provision of financial services. But they have also facilitated distortions such as money laundering and tax evasion.

Financial cases such as Enron, WorldCom, Parmalat, Siemens, the investigations into BAE Systems and now the German tax evasion enquiry have revealed serious weaknesses in governance and market functions. Some of the issues are for companies to address. But governments must also play their role in setting the rules and enforcing standards.

As new technologies shrink geography, opportunities have opened up for dishonest taxpayers to use tax havens to evade their tax obligations. Jurisdictions characterised by strict bank secrecy and a policy or practice of non-co-operation with law enforcement in other countries prosper by attracting brass plate banks, anonymous financial companies and asset protection trusts. But they do so to the detriment of the integrity of the world financial system and such behaviour is no longer acceptable. Money laundering and the misuse of corporate vehicles for tax evasion and other ways of exploiting financial markets for personal gain have expanded to the point where they threaten the political and economic interests of sovereign states. It is time for the governments of countries where such practices are prevalent to accept their responsibilities and crack down on them - or face the consequences.

Except we didn't write this. It's by Angel Gurr??a, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, writing in today's FT.

We don't quite agree: the article uses language that is more enthusiastic than I can manage about Jersey and the Isle of Man. But the point is clear, the move against tax havens is gathering a head of steam it has not enjoyed since 2000. This time the likes of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity will not be derailing it.

I note, incidentally, that they still have nothing to say about Liechtenstein. It will be hard for them to do so: what it proves beyond any doubt is that all they have said about tax havens is wrong, and their creed is a simple cover for those wishing to commit fraud.