Nordic Council assembles elite squad to tackle international tax avoidance

A group of up to 400 tax experts from around the Nordic region are being assembled via a Nordic Council-led project to target individuals and companies that continue to use jurisdictions such as Hong Kong to avoid paying tax.

Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet quotes project leader Torsten Fensby saying that “the sums are enormous…through a centralised Nordic cooperation we will pull in as much money as possible.”

Hong Kong, along with UAE, Qatar and Singapore are identified as the last four remaining key jurisdictions that can be labelled tax havens, because there are no effective tax information and exchange agreements in place.

Svenska Dagbladet said it is not possible to obtain exact figures on how much money is involved, but refers to the Tax Justice Network’s estimate that a third of all assets globally are involved in some way in avoidance measures. The Network also estimates that about half of all global trade transactions pass through tax havens.

Sweden’s own Tax Agency estimates some SEK400-500 (€48bn) is being hidden from its agents, representing lost tax revenue of about SEK46bn (€5.5bn).
Between 2006-12 some 40 jurisdictions signed TIEAs with Nordic countries, according to figures from the Nordic Council.

The Council last year set up a 16 member board including representatives from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland, to develop a coordinated response to tax avoidance. The board is overseeing the addition of 300-400 tax experts and the work to develop links with other jurisdictions to facilitate searches for hidden assets.


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