Nick Shaxson ■ Press Release: European Commission hires transparency opponent to assess corporate transparency
Press Release: CSOs protest as European Commission hires opponent of corporate transparency to assess corporate transparency
After strongly opposing any publication of data from corporate country by country reporting, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) has been hired by the European Commission to do an impact assessment of public country by country reporting for banks in the EU.
This has led more than 30 civil society organisations from across Europe to send a letter to the European Commission urging them to cancel the contract with PwC.
Tove Maria Ryding, Tax Coordinator for the European Network on Debt and Development (Eurodad), said:
“PwC has shown itself as a hardline opponent of public country by country reporting, but at the same time the company holds itself up to be a neutral and unbiased assessor.
The company clearly faces an impossible conflict of interest and will not be able to deliver a credible impact assessment. We have therefore urged the European Commission to terminate the contract with PwC and either find a neutral institution to do the impact assessment, or simply do the work themselves.”
Public country by country reporting is a key tool for revealing and preventing corporate tax dodging. However, as the CSO letter points out, PwC has recently participated in a public OECD consultation about country by country reporting and called for strong confidentiality, as well as “real sanctions for countries that violate confidentiality provisions”(1).
Questions have also been raised about the role of PwC in relation to corporate tax dodging. The latest example is Barclays Bank in the UK, which have been analysed by the Director of Tax Research, Richard Murphy, who concluded:
“I estimate that the loss to the UK could easily exceed £150 million.” Richard Murphy furthermore asks: “We can ask in that case how the Barclays’s auditors (PWC) signed off on these accounts as true and fair when that is the last thing they look to be”.(2)
As part of the fourth Capital Requirements Directive, the EU requires banks to disclose their turnover, number of employees, and taxes paid and subsidies received for each country in which they operate. This basic information is vital for discovering instances of tax dodging and starting from 2015, this information is supposed to become public unless significant economic disadvantages speak against it, in which case the European Commission can delay the publication of the data. The European Commission have now hired PwC to assess the consequences of making the data public.
Meanwhile, France has already implemented country by country reporting for French banks and will start to make part of this data public already in 2014.
(1) For more information, see PwC’s website.
(2) For more information, see Richard Murphy’s blog:
Update: the Irish Times covers it here.