Nick Shaxson ■ KPMG offers generous advice that will help tax cheats


KPMG CRSOne of the most important live initiatives currently in the field of tax justice and international financial transparency is the OECD’s Common Reporting Standards (CRS,) a system of automatic information exchange which we have broadly welcomed – though with some gripes – here.

Now it turns out that KPMG, that avuncular global accounting and “professional services” giant, is monitoring the CRS and its moves towards better financial transparency, and in a long document is offering this to its clients:

“KPMG can help you transition to the new standards”

So far, so benign. It’s surely going to provide a lot of nuts-and-bolts transition fixes for firms and individuals that would be too difficult and costly to learn about and implement on their own. Again, which is fine.

But then we get to something different. What, precisely, does this next bit mean?

“financial institutions should consider introducing policies for account holders that may wish to move their accounts to a non-CRS country.” (p21)

The only reasonable way we can think of to interpret this is that KPMG is urging (note that “should consider” is not a neutral term) financial institutions to facilitate the evasion of global standards and the preservation of secrecy – moves that are all but guaranteed to abet tax evasion and other crimes.

They, along with the other Big Four accountants, certainly have a long history of doing just that.

There’s more. :

“Financial institutions should . . .participate in relevant domestic lobbying groups to influence rules.”

KPMG is urging the financial sector to do more lobbying than it already does?

And they are boasting, no less, about the revolving door that helps influence policy – and about their own lobbying and influence:

“Our AEoI team includes former US government professionals that helped develop IGA model agreements and negotiated bilateral IGAs, and have drafted US regulatory guidance under FATCA, as well as helping draft the CRS. Professionals from across KPMG’s global network are also in regular dialogue with the US IRS and other tax authorities (e.g. UK’s HMRC) that are involved with drafting FATCA and IGA implementing guidance.”

As if these companies didn’t have enough influence already.

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