G-20 Said to Consider Recommending Panama Share Tax Records

  • Communique also said to repeat pledge on currency devaluations
  • Statement follows global furor over offshore financial records

The Group of 20 communique this week will probably include a recommendation that Panama more actively share information about taxes, according to a person with knowledge of the draft document.

G-20 finance ministers and central bank officials are gathering in Washington alongside the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The person spoke to reporters and asked not to be identified. Policy makers also plan to repeat past pledges to refrain from competitive devaluations of their currencies and stress the importance of structural reforms for aiding economies, according to a separate person who has been briefed on the draft statement.

The leak this month of offshore financial records, known as the Panama Papers, exposing billions of dollars in assets hidden in tax havens around the world, has set off a global furor. Seeking to contain the fallout from the scandal -- implicating everyone from world leaders to prominent business people -- some governments have pledged to crack down on tax evasion and money laundering to help regain public trust.

The reiteration on currencies would come after the European Central Bank cut one of its key interest rates further below zero last month and increased its asset-purchase program. Policy makers in Japan have also resorted to negative rates this year to bolster inflation and rekindle growth.

Tougher Rules

France, working closely with Italy, Spain and Germany, wants G-20 nations to make it tough for people to hide behind trusts or foundations to avoid paying taxes.

In a speech in Washington on Thursday, European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici described the public outrage over the Panama Papers as a danger to the European Union.

Moscovici called on global powers along with EU member states to assuage citizens’ concerns, outlining his own three-pillar strategy to address the problem. His recommendations consisted of an anti-tax evasion package, a harmonized blacklist of tax havens at the European level, and individual country reporting on the activities of multinational firms.

In an April 11 op-ed column in the New York Times, Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela said his government is committed to the automatic exchange of financial and corporate information, and has proposed steps it sees as consistent with the goals of the international community.

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