Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy has announced that outgoing Irish Finance Minister Michael Noonan is to be called to appear before a hearing of the European Parliament’s Panama Papers inquiry committee (PANA). The mandate of the inquiry is broader than the Panama Papers leak itself and is to examine contravention or maladministration of EU law in money-laundering, tax evasion and tax avoidance.

In an email to PANA political group coordinators this afternoon, it was confirmed that at a hearing of a selection of finance ministers to be held on July 10-11, the ministers to be requested to appear are from Ireland, Germany, Romania, Italy and Estonia (in Estonia’s capacity as holding the incoming Council presidency). Carthy is now the coordinator for GUE/NGL on the PANA inquiry committee.

Speaking today, Carthy said: “I welcome the decision by the PANA committee to invite Minister Noonan to address the Panama Papers inquiry committee, a proposal I made at the beginning of the inquiry’s mandate. I urge the Minister to respond positively to the request and to engage with the committee.

“While the Irish government has taken limited steps in the last budget to address some of the problems identified by the Panama Papers leak, which I have supported, the mandate of the PANA inquiry is also to examine cases of tax avoidance facilitated by EU Member States, which was my focus in making this proposal.

“Unfortunately, the Irish state has been identified as a corporate tax haven by numerous reputable academic and development agencies. In December Oxfam identified Ireland as the sixth worst corporate tax haven in the world, following a report in October last year by US-based Citizens for Tax Justice which also cited the Irish state as being the sixth worst tax haven globally for Fortune 500 companies.

“An academic study commissioned by the PANA inquiry itself, which was published this year, identifies Ireland as one of the top conduit offshore centres in the world – which means that while multinationals may not hold all their profits in the Irish state, they are allowed to use Ireland to divert their profits to sink offshore centres such as Bermuda.

“Leaked notes from EU Council tax discussions in September last year showed the Irish government opposing the use of a ‘base erosion test’ to assesses to what extent company ownership correlates with a corporation’s presence in a state – one of many initiatives aimed at tackling tax avoidance opposed by the Irish government in the Council. The government’s appeal against the Commission’s verdict in the Apple case has caused further damage to Ireland’s reputation on corporate tax.

“I hope we can examine some of these issues before the inquiry hearing in July.

“The Irish government needs to respond to domestic and international pressure to change its tax-haven strategy – a strategy which is unsustainable, unjust and damaging to the Irish people, our reputation and our economy.” ENDS

Noonan to be called before EU inquiry into tax avoidance

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