27 October 2020

Transparency International EU reveals the murky tax affairs of Europe’s biggest banks

New research by the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International EU (TI EU) on the tax affairs of some of Europe’s largest banks from 2015 to 2019 suggests widespread use of tax havens and profit shifting. The findings have been published today on TI EU’s Corporate Tax Tracker platform and analysed in the new report “Murky havens and phantom profits: the tax affairs of EU and UK banks”.

Among the 39 EU and UK banks looked at in the study, 31 were using low-tax or zero-tax havens, while 29 of them appeared to be declaring high profits in countries where they did not actually employ any staff. These ‘ghost operations’ may indicate that banks are shifting their profits to reduce their tax bill. Without full details on banks’ operations in the countries concerned it is impossible to tell,

Several banks discussed in the research, including HSBC, Barclays, Deutsche Bank and Standard Chartered, were implicated in the recent FinCEN scandal, which alleged their involvement in moving dirty money across the globe.

The questionable practices highlighted by our research are still escaping full public scrutiny,” said Elena Gaita, senior policy officer at Transparency International EU. “For instance, in the last five years, HSBC reported €1.59 billion of profits in Saudi Arabia, despite not having a single employee in the country. Likewise, Deutsche Bank made €418 million from its Maltese operation, which has been unstaffed since 2016. European economies are on their knees because of the pandemic, so it’s now more important than ever that banks and other multinational companies are seen to pay their fair share of tax.

Since 2015, EU banks have been required to publish country-by-country reports of their profits, taxes and number of employees for every jurisdiction in which they operate. The banking and extractives sectors are the only industries that are subject to such regulations.

The researchers analysed five years’ worth of these reports and used the data to build an online platform, the Corporate Tax Tracker, which will enable closer public scrutiny of major banks.

We were only able to scrutinise the tax behaviour of banks because they are subject to EU public country-by-country tax reporting rules,” explained Gaita. “This is probably just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to aggressive tax planning, so it is essential that these rules are extended to other sectors of the economy. The EU member states that are still blocking this legislation should put the interests of their citizens and their economic well-being over the interests of large companies, especially in these times of economic uncertainty.

The current German EU Council Presidency has an opportunity to ensure that Member States finally adopt a position on public country-by-country reporting rules for large companies, so we are calling on them to include it in the upcoming Competitiveness Council meeting.

12 October 2020

OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS invites public input on the Reports on Pillar One and Pillar Two Blueprints

As part of the ongoing work to develop a solution to the tax challenges of the digitalisation of the economy, the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS is seeking public comments on the Reports on Pillar One and Pillar Two Blueprints.

The top priority of the OECD/G20 Inclusive Framework on BEPS (Inclusive Framework) has been to develop a solution to the tax challenges of the digitalisation of the economy. On 12 October 2020, the Inclusive Framework released a package consisting of the Report on the Pillar One Blueprint and the Report on the Pillar Two Blueprint. These Blueprints reflect the convergent views on many of the key policy features, principles and parameters of both Pillars, and identify remaining technical and administrative issues as well as policy issues where divergent views among Inclusive Framework members remain to be bridged.

The Inclusive Framework welcomes stakeholder input on the Blueprints and will hold public consultation meetings on them in January 2021. This will assist members of the Inclusive Framework in further refining the package and addressing remaining issues. To help focus the input of stakeholders, the public consultation document sets out a series of questions for each of the Pillars.

28 September 2020

UNCTAD: Africa could gain $89 billion annually by curbing illicit financial flows

Every year, an estimated $88.6 billion, equivalent to 3.7% of Africa’s GDP, leaves the continent as illicit capital flight, according to UNCTAD’s Economic Development in Africa Report 2020.

Illicit financial flows (IFFs) are movements of money and assets across borders which are illegal in source, transfer or use, according to the report entitled “Tackling illicit financial flows for sustainable development in Africa.”

It shows that these outflows are nearly as much as the combined total annual inflows of official development assistance, valued at $48 billion, and yearly foreign direct investment, pegged at $54 billion, received by African countries – the average for 2013 to 2015.

Illicit financial flows rob Africa and its people of their prospects, undermining transparency and accountability and eroding trust in African institutions,” said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.

These outflows include illicit capital flight, tax and commercial practices like mis-invoicing of trade shipments and criminal activities such as illegal markets, corruption or theft. 

From 2000 to 2015, the total illicit capital flight from Africa amounted to $836 billion. Compared to Africa’s total external debt stock of $770 billion in 2018, this makes Africa a “net creditor to the world”, the report says.

IFFs related to the export of extractive commodities ($40 billion in 2015) are the largest component of illicit capital flight from Africa. Although estimates of IFFs are large, they likely understate the problem and its impact.

IFFs undermine Africa’s potential to achieve the SDGs

IFFs represent a major drain on capital and revenues in Africa, undermining productive capacity and Africa’s prospects for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

For example, the report finds that, in African countries with high IFFs, governments spend 25% less than countries with low IFFs on health and 58% less on education. Since women and girls often have less access to health and education, they suffer most from the negative fiscal effects of IFFs.

Africa will not be able to bridge the large financing gap to achieve the SDGs, estimated at $200 billion per year, with existing government revenues and development assistance.

The report finds that tackling capital flight and IFFs represents a large potential source of capital to finance much-needed investments in, for example, infrastructure, education, health, and productive capacity.

For example, in Sierra Leone, which has one of the highest under-five mortality rates on the continent (105 per 1,000 live births in 2018), curbing capital flight and investing a constant share of revenues in public health could save an additional 2,322 of the 258,000 children born in the country annually.

In Africa, IFFs originate mainly from extractive industries and are therefore associated with poor environmental outcomes.

The report shows that curbing illicit capital flight could generate enough capital by 2030 to finance almost 50% of the $2.4 trillion needed by sub-Saharan African countries for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

IFFs are concentrated in high-value, low-weight commodities, especially gold

The report’s analysis also demonstrates that IFFs in Africa are not endemic to specific countries, but rather to certain high-value, low-weight commodities.

Of the estimated $40 billion of IFFs derived from extractive commodities in 2015, 77% were concentrated in the gold supply chain, followed by diamonds (12%) and platinum (6%).

This finding offers new insights for researchers and policymakers studying how to identify and curb IFFs and is relevant to all gold-exporting countries in Africa, for example, despite their differing local conditions.

The report aims to equip African governments with knowledge on how to identify and evaluate risks associated with IFFs, as well as solutions to curb IFFs and redirect the proceeds towards the achievement of national priorities and the SDGs.

It calls for global efforts to promote international cooperation to combat IFFs. It also advocates for strengthening good practices on the return of assets to foster sustainable development and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Need to collect better trade data to detect risks related to IFFs

Specific data limitations affected efforts to estimate IFFs. Only 45 out of 53 African countries provide data to the UN International Trade Statistics Database (UN Comtrade) in a continuous manner allowing trade statistics to be compared over time.  

The report highlights the importance of collecting more and better trade data to detect risks related to IFFs, increase transparency in extractive industries and tax collection.

The UNCTAD Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA), including its new module for mineral production and export, called MOSES (Mineral Output Statistical Evaluation System), are potential available solutions.

African countries also need to enter automatic exchange of tax information agreements to effectively tackle IFFs.

Africa should improve regional cooperation on IFFs and tax

Although IFFs are a major constraint to domestic resource mobilization in Africa, African governments are not yet sufficiently engaging in the reform of the international taxation system.

Transparency and cooperation between tax administrations globally and within the continent is key to the fight against tax evasion and tax avoidance.

Regarding regional cooperation on taxation within the continent, the African Tax Administration Forum can provide a platform for regional cooperation among African countries.

Regional knowledge networks to enhance national capacities to tackle proceeds of money laundering and recover stolen assets, including within the context of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), are crucial in the fight against corruption and crime-related IFFs, the report says.

Tackling IFFs requires international action

Tax revenues lost to IFFs are especially costly for Africa, where public investments and spending on the SDGs are most lacking. In 2014, Africa lost an estimated $9.6 billion to tax havens, equivalent to 2.5% of total tax revenue.

Tax evasion is at the core of the world's shadow financial system. Commercial IFFs are often linked to tax avoidance or evasion strategies, designed to shift profits to lower-tax jurisdictions.

Due to the lack of domestic transfer pricing rules in most African countries, local judicial authorities lack the tools to challenge tax evasion by multinational enterprises.

But IFFs are not just a national concern in Africa. Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said: “Illicit financial flows are multidimensional and transnational in character. Like the concept of migration, they have countries of origin and destination, and there are several transit locations. The whole process of mitigating illicit financial flows, therefore, cuts across several jurisdictions.

Solutions to the problem must involve international tax cooperation and anti-corruption measures. The international community should devote more resources to tackle IFFs, including capacity-building for tax and customs authorities in developing countries.

African countries need to strengthen engagement in international taxation reform, make tax competition consistent with protocols of the AfCFTA and aim for more taxing rights.

27 September 2020

Raconteur: Understanding Pensions 2020

With the number of retirees set to surge, what impact could this have on the global economy and the pension industry? The Understanding Pensions special report explores how to cope with the pensioner boom, investing with conscience and impact, master trusts, and more. It also features an infographic on if the auto-enrolment scheme has worked to close pension gaps.

25 September 2020

Z/Yen: The Global Financial Centres Index 28 (GFCI 28)

The twenty-eighth edition of the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI 28) was published on 25 September 2020. GFCI 28 provides evaluations of future competitiveness and rankings for 111 major financial centres around the world. The GFCI serves as a valuable reference for policy and investment decision-makers.

China Development Institute (CDI) in Shenzhen and Z/Yen Partners in London collaborate in producing the GFCI. The GFCI is updated and published every March and September, and receives considerable attention from the global financial community.

121 financial centres were researched for GFCI 28 of which 111 are now in the main index. The GFCI is compiled using 138 instrumental factors. These quantitative measures are provided by third parties including the World Bank, the Economist Intelligence Unit, the OECD and the United Nations.

The instrumental factors are combined with financial centre assessments provided by respondents to the GFCI online questionnaire. GFCI 28 uses 54,509 assessments from 8,549 respondents.

The Results Of GFCI 28 Include:

  • GFCI 28 again shows a relatively high level of volatility, with 23 centres rising ten or more places in the rankings and 20 falling ten or more places.
  • Overall, the average rating of centres in the index dropped over 41 points (6.25%) from GFCI 27, which may indicate a more general lack of confidence in finance during a time of continuing uncertainty around international trade, the impact of the covid-19 pandemic on individual economies, and geopolitical and local unrest.
  • All of the top ten centres in the index increased their ratings in GFCI 28, reversing recent trends. Of the next 40 centres, 12 improved their rating while 27 fell. This may indicate increased confidence in leading centres during the covid-19 pandemic.

Leading Centres

  • New York retains its first place in the index, although London in second place has made up ground in the ratings, now only four points behind the leader (27 points in GFCI 27).
  • Shanghai moved up one place to third and Tokyo dropped one place to fourth, although only one point separates them in the ratings. Similarly, Hong Kong moved up a place to rank fifth and Singapore fell one place to sixth, again with only one point separating Hong Kong and Singapore in the ratings.
  • Shenzhen and Zurich entered the top ten in this edition, replacing Los Angeles and Geneva.
  • Within the top 30 centres, Luxembourg, Boston, Seoul, and Madrid rose by more than five places.

Western Europe

  • After its strong performance in GFCI 27, centres in Western Europe had mixed fortunes in GFCI 28, with 15 centres rising in the rankings and 12 falling. However, the average drop in ratings was only 21 points (3.17%) in this region.

Asia/Pacific

  • Asia/Pacific Centres had a mixed performance in GFCI 28, with ten centres falling in the rankings and 14 rising. This appears to reflect levels of confidence in the stability of Asian centres and in their approach to sustainable finance, which appears to be growing in its effect on the overall rating of centres.
  • Taipei, Chengdu, and Qingdao all rose more than 30 places in the rankings.

North America

  • North American centres showed the least change in ratings across the regions, falling on average just 9 points (1.3%).
  • Boston, Washington DC, and San Diego all improved five or more places in the rankings.
  • Six out of the eleven North American centres are in the top 20, up from four in GFCI 27.

Eastern Europe & Central Asia

  • Following a good performance in ratings in GFCI 27, all centres in this region saw their ratings fall, and only three of the 16 centres in the region—Moscow, Istanbul, and Athens—improved their rank.
  • Sofia, Baku, and Almaty fell over 30 ranking places from GFCI 27 to GFCI 28.

Middle East & Africa

  • All 13 Centres in the Middle East & Africa performed poorly once again, with all 13 centres falling in the ratings and with only Abu Dhabi, Mauritius and Cape Town improving in the rankings.

Latin America & The Caribbean

  • While all centres in this region fell in the ratings, with the average rating for the region falling 54 points (8.66%).

FinTech

  • New York leads the FinTech rankings, followed by Beijing, Shanghai, London, and Shenzhen. Five of the top ten centres for FinTech are Chinese.
  • In our recently published Smart Centres Index, focusing more broadly on innovation and technology, Chinese centres did not feature as strongly as they have in the Fintech rankings. This suggests a particular focus on Fintech in these centres.

24 September 2020

FACTI Panel - Tax abuse, money laundering and corruption plague global finance

Governments must do more to tackle tax abuse and corruption in global finance, says a panel of former heads of state and government, past central bank governors, business and civil society leaders and prominent academics.

The findings come in an interim report published today by the High-Level Panel on International Financial Accountability, Transparency and Integrity for Achieving the 2030 Agenda (FACTI Panel), established by the 74th President of the UN General Assembly and the 75th President of the UN Economic and Social Council.

The report says governments can’t agree on the problem or the solution, while resources that could help the world’s poor are being drained by tax abuse, corruption and financial crime. Estimates include:

  • $500 billion losses to governments each year from profit-shifting enterprises;
  • $7 trillion in private wealth hidden in haven countries, with 10% of world GDP held offshore;
  • Money laundering of around $1.6 trillion per year, or 2.7% of global GDP.

Global finance controls haven’t kept pace with a globalized, digitalized world. The FinCen Files involving $2 trillion of transactions revealed this week how some of the biggest banks have allowed criminals to move dirty money around the world. They are the latest reports from investigative journalists showing the system to regulate dirty money has major gaps.

Corruption and tax avoidance are rampant. Too many banks are in cahoots and too many governments are stuck in the past. We’re all being robbed, especially the world’s poor,” said Dr. Dalia Grybauskaitė, FACTI co-chair and former president of Lithuania. “Trust in the finance system is essential to tackle big issues like poverty, climate change and COVID-19. Instead we get dithering and delay bordering on complicity,” she said.

Criminals have exploited the pandemic, says the report, as governments relaxed controls to speed up healthcare and social protection. “Our weakness in tackling corruption and financial crime has been further exposed by the COVID-19,” said Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki, FACTI co-chair and ex-prime minister of Niger. “Resources to stop the spread, keep people alive and put food on tables are instead lost to corruption and abuse,” he said.

The FACTI Panel calls for a more coherent and equitable approach to international tax cooperation, including taxing the digital economy, and more balanced cooperation on settling disputes.

A launch event for the interim report will bring the FACTI Panel chairs together with high-level representatives from Member States. The Panel hopes the interim report will generate debate among policymakers and consensus on recommendations to be included in a final report to be published in February 2021.

20 August 2020

Nespresso Reviving Origins Kahawa ya Congo

Nespresso today announced a long-term commitment to revive the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) coffee industry, under its unique Reviving Origins program, with the launch of the first organic coffee of the range, KAHAWA YA CONGO, in the US. Established in 2019, the Reviving Origins program aims to restore coffee production in regions where it is under threat, bringing back to life some of the rarest fine coffees for all coffee connoisseurs to discover.

In 1980, coffee, ranked among the world’s finest, was the second most important export for the Democratic Republic of Congo, but declined in the early 2000’s due to years of conflict and economic instability that had a devastating impact on the industry. Volumes have since dropped by 10 times. KAHAWA ya CONGO comes from rain-rich volcanic soils along the shore of Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo. This area has the potential to be among the world's great coffee regions but has faced extremely challenging conditions recently.

As part of its Reviving Origins program, Nespresso, together with the global non-profit TechnoServe, the U.S Agency for International Development and coffee trader Virunga Coffee/Olam International, has started to implement its AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program in the Kivu provinces in 2019, through training and technical support, to improve coffee quality and productivity, in addition to establishing sustainable farming practices, and increasing farmer income. Nespresso’s ambition is to increase the number of Congolese farmers participating in the program from 450 today to over 5’000 by 2024.

Guillaume Le Cunff, CEO of Nespresso said: “We are very proud to welcome Congo into our Reviving Origins program and we are committed to providing long term support that will help Congolese coffee farmers, and their communities, to rebuild their coffee industry and their local economies”.

The coffee farmers we are working with have overcome incredible challenges over the years, and are determined to improve their coffee and in so doing, improve their lives,” said William Warshauer, president and CEO of TechnoServe. “Through better agronomic and processing techniques, and the engagement of a reliable buyer like Nespresso, these farmers are already increasing their incomes and starting to build a better future for their families.

Reviving coffee while enabling access to clean water and health support

Decades of conflict have led to many farmers fleeing their homes and abandoning their crops. But coffee agriculture is not the only challenge. Today, 58% of households in the Democratic Republic of Congo lack access to clean water systems, and 15% of children do not reach their 5th birthday, with preventable and treatable diseases such as water-borne illnesses, acute respiratory infections and malaria among the leading causes.

To support the revival of DRC’s coffee farming communities and in partnership with the Eastern Congo Initiative, Nespresso is investing CHF 1 million to bring affordable healthcare and access to clean water to communities across South Kivu, contributing to eliminating cholera, a major health issue in the Democratic Republic of Congo. 23 water access points and six health clinics will be established (one primary and five mobile) which will deliver 13,000 health consultations per year to local communities. This will significantly improve coffee farming communities’ welfare and is part of Nespresso’s holistic approach to reviving the coffee industry in challenging areas.

Everyone has the right to basic healthcare and clean, safe water, but for many communities in the Kivu region – blighted by years of conflict, instability and economic hardship – these services remain inaccessible or unaffordable. Through the establishment of much-needed water points and health clinics, the Reviving Origins program will positively impact thousands of people and transform lives,” Guillaume Le Cunff added.

Through years of fighting and insecurity, Congolese families kept tending to their coffee fields, even after the market disappeared,” said ECI field operations manager Valéry Namuto. “They kept toiling because they had hope in a brighter future for their families. This new partnership with Nespresso will help secure a meaningful livelihood for skilled Congolese farmers and bring world-class basic services like clean drinking water and affordable healthcare to their communities.

Nespresso formally launched the Reviving Origins program in 2019 to revive coffee agriculture and local coffee economies in regions affected by adversities such as conflict, economic hardship and environmental disasters, following several years of experience in reviving forgotten coffee, starting in South Sudan in 2011. It is an integral part of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, the company’s unique sustainable sourcing model in coffee producing countries, which involves more than 110,000 farmers across the world. Overall, Nespresso is investing a total of CHF 10 million in the Reviving Origins program over a period of five years (2019-2023).

The “KAHAWA ya CONGO” coffee

The rain-rich volcanic soils along the Kivu lakeshores of Eastern Congo provide an ideal environment for growing specialty Arabica coffee. The first organic coffee in the Reviving Origins range, KAHAWA ya CONGO is a smooth, seasonal coffee with a mild, fruity note, and alluring sweet cereal and nutty aromas. It is now available exclusively in the US for a limited period for Vertuo. Nespresso aims to make this new rare and exquisite coffee available globally, as a seasonal edition, in 2021. The long-term objective of the Reviving Origins program is to establish these under-threat coffees as permanent blends, available all year round for consumers.

About the Reviving Origins program

Nespresso first discovered the potential of reviving a forgotten coffee when it ventured to South Sudan in 2011. The limited edition SULUJA ti SOUTH SUDAN became the country’s second export after oil in 2015 and 2016, and helped to diversify the economic base of the world’s youngest nation. In 2016, Nespresso launched the limited editions AURORA de la PAZ, its first coffee from the Caquetá, Colombia, conflict region, and CAFECITO de CUBA the first Cuban coffee to come to the United States in more than fifty years (exclusive for the US). In 2019, Nespresso officially launched its Reviving Origins program alongside new single-origin coffees from Eastern Zimbabwe - TAMUKA mu ZIMBABWE - and Caquetá and El Rosario, (Colombia) - ESPERANZA de COLOMBIA - followed by Puerto Rico – CAFECITO de PUERTO RICO. In 2020, Nespresso introduced AMAHA awe UGANDA from the Rwenzori Mountains regions of Uganda, and now KAHAWA ya CONGO from the Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Nespresso Introduces KAHAWA ya CONGO, the Newest Reviving Origins Coffee, and Commits to Helping Provide Access to Clean Water and Healthcare to Over 80,000 People in Eastern Congo by 2024

Nespresso today announces the launch of KAHAWA ya CONGO, the newest and first USDA certified organic coffee within Reviving Origins, Nespresso's unique program established to make a meaningful impact on global farming communities where coffee growing is under threat. With help from the Nespresso community, farmers are overcoming conflict, environmental disasters and economic hardships and revitalizing their coffee farms to be more sustainable while bringing back to life some of the world's rarest coffees.

KAHAWA ya CONGO comes from rain-rich volcanic soils along the shore of Lake Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo). This area has the potential to be among the world's great coffee regions, but farming families in the area face extremely challenging conditions. Nearly 95% of households in the region are experiencing financial deprivation due to healthcare challenges and 45% of households do not have access to clean water. In collaboration with Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI), TechnoServe and Olam (with Virunga Coffee Company), Nespresso is helping to provide improved access to clean water and health services, while also helping farmers grow coffee sustainably for generations to come.

"Working with farmers to help cultivate and nurture sustainable coffee farms has been the heart of our business for over 30 years, with a goal to truly realize the transformative power of coffee and deliver the highest quality coffee to consumers across the globe," said Alfonso Gonzalez Loeschen, CEO of Nespresso North America. "Through our Reviving Origins program, we are inviting the Nespresso community to participate with us and see the direct impact – whether it be donating trees in Puerto Rico, building wet mills in Uganda or providing technical training and access to agronomists. We're proud of our program, the work and the long-term positive impact for farmers and their communities."  

In Congo, Nespresso is part of a uniquely collaborative model with Asili, the social business platform of ECI, TechnoServe and Olam (with Virunga Coffee Company). Together, they are working with farmers to provide state-of-the-art agricultural expertise, improve access to clean water and open new clinics to provide healthcare services for over 80,000 people in coffee farming communities in eastern Congo by 2024.

"Through years of fighting and insecurity, Congolese families kept tending to their coffee fields, even after the market disappeared," said ECI field operations manager Valéry Namuto. "They kept toiling because they had hope in a brighter future for their families. This new partnership with Nespresso will help secure a meaningful livelihood for skilled Congolese farmers and bring world-class basic services like clean drinking water and affordable healthcare to their communities."

KAHAWA ya CONGO is a rare USDA certified organic coffee that is smooth with nutty, cereal-like aromas. With milk, the aromas transform into a light, sweet and creamy cup full of biscuit notes, a hint of walnut and a silky texture. Every cup of coffee from Congo and all other Reviving Origins regions contributes to the equipment, training or resources farmers and their communities need to create a better future.

Creating Transformative Impact through Reviving Origins

Nespresso and partner organizations help farmers deploy sustainable farming practices that will improve coffee yield and quality to generate positive economic benefits that ripple through their communities.  Congo joins four other Reviving Origins regions:

Colombia

The Impact:

Fifty years of conflict in the Caquetá and El Rosario regions of Colombia caused farmers to abandon coffee growing. Working with more than 1,000 farmers supported by Nespresso agronomists through the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, high quality coffee production grew by 10% two years in a row. To improve infrastructure, 78 solar dryers and 135 depulping machines have been installed and distributed across farms.

The Coffee: 

ESPERANZA de COLOMBIA, a rounded and beautifully balanced coffee from Caquetá, notable for its fruity notes and fine acidity.

Puerto Rico

The Impact:

After Hurricanes Maria and Irma destroyed 80% of the island's coffee trees and harvest, Nespresso committed $1 million as part of a three-year initiative with Hispanic Federation and other organizations to help revitalize Puerto Rico's coffee industry. Today, Nespresso's funding supports training and technical assistance to nearly 500 farmers with help from TechnoServe. Nespresso has also committed 160,000 coffee trees to farmers through the Hispanic Federation's initiative to distribute 2.25 million seedlings on the island. 

The Coffee:

CAFECITO de PUERTO RICO, an intense, creamy espresso punctuated by aromatic notes of cocoa and black pepper.

Uganda

The Impact:

Coffee production in Uganda suffers from drought and climate change. In collaboration with Agri Evolve and Kyagalanyi, Nespresso trained over 2,000 farmers on sustainable agriculture practices, boosting farmer's expertise and improving the quality of coffee, and helping to build a stronger supply chain. Uganda was formally announced as part of the Reviving Origins program in May 2020 with the introduction of AMAHA awe UGANDA.

The Coffee:

AMAHA awe UGANDA, a rich and clean espresso from the Rwenzori Mountains that carries both rare sandalwood notes and elegant florals. AMAHA awe UGANDA launched globally in May 2020.

Zimbabwe

The Impact:

Economic instability and climate change adversely affected coffee farming in Zimbabwe resulting in a 96% decrease in production levels since the 1980's. As part of Nespresso's $1.3 million commitment over five years, 450 farmers are receiving training and technical assistance from TechnoServe and Nespresso agronomists to improve the quality and yield of their crop and fortify the land against future threats due to climate change. Reviving Origins has increased exportable coffee from smallholder farmers by 9% in Eastern Zimbabwe.

The Coffee:

TAMUKA mu ZIMBABWE, a complex and bright coffee from the Honde Valley with fruity notes of cranberry, currant and grape.


04 June 2020

Platform for Collaboration on Tax Releases Toolkit on Taxation of Offshore Indirect Transfers

The Platform for Collaboration on Tax (PCT) released a Toolkit on the Taxation of Offshore Indirect Transfers (OIT) providing guidance on the design and implementation issues when one country seeks to tax gains on the sale of interests in an entity owning assets located in that country by an entity which is a tax resident in another country.

This toolkit addresses a concern of particular significance to developing countries, mostly but not exclusively natural resource rich countries—primarily from the perspective of the country where the underlying assets are located. Taxation of the indirect transfer of assets such as mineral rights, and other assets generating location specific rents such as licensing rights for telecommunications, has been the subject of protracted public interest. This topic is a concern in many developing countries, magnified by the revenue challenges that governments around the world face as a consequence of the COVID-19 crisis.

The significance of this issue was recognized in the development of the OECD led Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent BEPS (the “MLI”). The MLI includes a provision based upon the OECD and UN model tax conventions, for purposes of extending the reach of existing tax treaties to allocate rights to tax such indirect transfers to location countries, should treaty partners so choose.

The toolkit assesses the economic rationale for such an allocation of taxing rights on such transfers to the country where the underlying assets are located. The toolkit proposes that location countries may wish to tax offshore indirect transfers of at least those assets which are immovable—within the meaning of current UN and OECD model treaties—and perhaps additional assets that also generate location specific rents. If location countries do wish to extend taxing rights to such transfers the toolkit suggests two models for domestic legislation which such countries may adopt.

The first model seeks to tax the resident asset owner under the deemed disposal model- treating it as having realized the gain on the assets in question immediately before the transfer and reacquired the asset immediately after the transfer. The second model seeks to tax instead the non-resident seller of the asset. The toolkit also suggests a model definition of immovable property for the purposes of such domestic legislation and provides further guidance to support enforcement and collection.

The PCT is a joint initiative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank Group (WBG).

Money Laundering and Illicit Financial Flows – Following the Money and Value Trails

Outside of crimes of passion, criminals, criminal organizations, kleptocrats, and some businesses and corporations are motivated by greed. In today’s increasingly interconnected world, the criminal manifestations of unchecked avarice impact all of us – politically, socially, economically, and culturally. Transnational crime effects our individual and collective security. The magnitude of crime is measured in the multi-trillions of dollars annually. Laundering or hiding and disguising the proceeds of crime is essential for criminal organizations. Unfortunately, the last thirty years have demonstrated that our anti-money laundering (AML) countermeasures are not effective. Examining the “metrics that matter,” we are a “decimal point away from total failure.” The outlook going forward is not promising. Money Laundering and Illicit Financial Flows – Following the Money and Value Trails is the first book to take a hard look at our AML track record. Written primarily from a law enforcement perspective, the book examines old and new money laundering methodologies. It exposes threats, enablers, and facilitators. Making the case for an AML paradigm shift, the book offers alternative steps forward. Combining facts, straight-forward explanations, case studies, as well as the author’s personal experiences, views and commentary, this book is valuable to the public and private sectors, policy makers, as well as students and concerned citizens. As a former Treasury Special Agent, John Cassara has investigated and studied money laundering for over 30 years. Equally at home in back streets or government bureaucracies, he has a unique perspective and offers an insider’s knowledge. He delights in telling it as it is. The author of five books and countless articles on money laundering and threat finance, Cassara continues to surface important issues that deserve our attention.


03 June 2020

Alpha City: How London Was Captured by the Super-Rich

How London was bought and sold by the Super-Rich, and what it means for the rest of us

Who owns London? In recent decades, it has fallen into the hands of the super-rich. It is today the essential “World City” for High-Net-Worth Individuals and Ultra-High-Net-Worth Individuals. Compared to New York or Tokyo, the two cities that bear the closest comparison, it has the largest number of wealthy people per head of population. Taken as a whole, London is the epicentre of the world’s finance markets, an elite cultural hub, and a place to hide one’s wealth.

Rowland Atkinson presents a history of the property boom economy, going back to the end of Empire. It tells the story of eager developers, sovereign wealth and grasping politicians, all paving the way for the wealthy colonisation of the cityscape. The consequences of this transformation of the capital for capital is the brutal expulsion of the urban poor, austerity, cuts, demolitions, and a catalogue of social injustices. This Faustian pact has resulted in the sale and destruction of public assets, while the rich turn a blind eye toward criminal money laundering to feather their own nests.

Alpha City moves from gated communities and the mega-houses of the super-rich to the disturbing rise of evictions and displacements from the city. It shows how the consequences of widening inequality have an impact on the urban landscape.


26 May 2020

Nespresso's Reviving Origins program

Launch of new Ugandan coffee marks second year of success for Nespresso’s Reviving Origins program, following productivity boost in regions in Zimbabwe and Colombia where coffee is under threat
  • Nespresso’s Reviving Origins program celebrates second year by introducing new coffee, AMAHA awe UGANDA, from the Rwenzori Mountains
  • Investment, training and resources provides Rwenzori coffee farmers with the tools to improve their livelihoods through the increase of the quality of their crop
  • Reviving Origins program drove productivity boost of 9% in Eastern Zimbabwe and 10% in Caquetá, Colombia for 2018/2019
Lausanne, Switzerland, 26 May 2020Nespresso today introduces AMAHA awe UGANDA, ‘Hope of Uganda’, a new and seasonal coffee from the Rwenzori Mountains of Uganda made possible only through the company’s unique Reviving Origins program. Launched in 2019, the Reviving Origins program aims to restore coffee production in regions where it is under threat.
In Uganda, climate change, poor farming practices and economic hardship has meant that the production of high quality coffee has been a challenge over recent years. As part of the Reviving Origins program and in partnership with Agri Evolve, a young agribusiness dedicated to improving farmer productivity, Nespresso is working with more than 2,000 farmers, providing training and expertise to improve coffee quality and productivity in addition to establishing sustainable farming practices.

Guillaume Le Cunff, CEO of Nespresso said: “Coffee is the lifeblood of entire communities across the globe. In many regions, coffee farming is threatened for reasons such as climate change, conflict and a shifting global economy. Through the Reviving Origins program, Nespresso provides support to struggling coffee farming areas and helps breathe new life into local economies and, most importantly, communities in these regions.

Formally launched in 2019, the Reviving Origins program aims to revive coffee agriculture and local coffee economies in regions affected by adversities such as conflict, economic hardship and environmental disasters. The program provides support to rebuild sustainable livelihoods for farmers and their communities while preserving the future of some of the world’s rarest, most exquisite coffees. Nespresso is investing a total of CHF 10 million in the program over a period of five years (2019-2023). The Reviving Origins program is an integral part of the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, the brand’s sustainable sourcing model in coffee producing countries.

Jonny Rowland, Owner and Managing Director of Agri Evolve said: “Our partnership with Nespresso enables us to provide ongoing support to the Rwenzori coffee farmers. Through community projects and teamwork, growth and development are not only within the coffee farm but also in the improved environmental and social standards of the community. The Rwenzori coffee farmers now have the opportunity to share their premium quality coffee with the world, leading to higher household incomes as well as giving communities and families confidence for a sustainable future in coffee farming for the generations to come.

The AMAHA awe UGANDA coffee will be available from May 2020 in 31 countries across the world, alongside Reviving Origins coffees TAMUKA mu ZIMBABWE and ESPERANZA de COLOMBIA - both back for 2020 following their initial launch last year.

The Reviving Origins program’s long-term aim is to establish these under threat coffees as permanent blends, available all year round for consumers, by helping farmers to increase the quality and the yield of their coffee, which brings crucial economic benefits for the regions involved, and leveraging strong partners in each of the origins.

HIGH QUALITY COFFEE YIELD INCREASES IN ZIMBABWE AND CAQUETÁ, COLOMBIA

Since its launch last year, the Reviving Origins program has already been a significant success in Zimbabwe and Caquetá, Colombia, two regions where coffee production has been under threat in recent years.

n Zimbabwe, coffee production has been under pressure for a number of years, falling from 15,000 tons in the late 1980s to just 500 tons in 2017. In Colombia, almost 50 years of conflict has meant many farmers abandoned their lands and coffee almost disappeared from Caquetá and El Rosario.

In both countries, Nespresso provides continuous training on quality and productivity, as well as free technical assistance through its agronomist network. It also addresses infrastructure challenges that exist in these areas by building wet mills or helping to establish coffee cooperatives.

As a result, productivity has increased. The availability of AAA high quality coffee has grown by 9% in the Manicaland province of Zimbabwe and 10% in Caquetá, Colombia, from 2018 to 2019.
 
TECHNOLOGY UNLOCKS TRANSPARENCY FOR TAMUKA mu ZIMBABWE COFFEE

This year, Nespresso is, for the first time, making its AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program data publicly available using blockchain technology. Introduced for Zimbabwe initially, a new Nespresso platform traces the AAA coffee from farms in Zimbabwe all the way through to the Nespresso production centre in Switzerland. Through the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, the company has had a traceability process in place since the program’s inception in 2003, making it possible to track coffee back to individual farms.

Users of the blockchain platform will be able to zoom in on specific farms, where they can find a breakdown of the total coffee produced at farm level and the amount of high quality coffee bought by Nespresso.

Guillaume Le Cunff, CEO of Nespresso added: “We know that consumers are more and more interested to know where their coffee is coming from. Thanks to our AAA Sustainable Quality™ Program, we have had traceability back to individual farms in our value chain for over 15 years. I am pleased that thanks to this blockchain initiative, we can now take it one step further and invite our customers to discover the farmers behind their TAMUKA mu ZIMBABWE coffee”.

Consumers can access the blockchain platform here

INTRODUCING THE AMAHA awe UGANDA COFFEE

‘Hope of Uganda’ in Lhukonzo, a local language in Uganda, is a single origin coffee that carries rare sandalwood notes and elegant florals with medium acidity and body. An intensity 8 espresso, AMAHA awe UGANDA grows in a unique terroir, where shade and nutrients provided by banana trees create a true Arabica dreamland. In a Latte Macchiato, the biscuit and discrete fruity notes come alive in a balanced and sweet cup.

About the Reviving Origins program

Nespresso first discovered the potential of reviving a forgotten coffee when it ventured to South Sudan in 2011. The limited edition SULUJA ti SOUTH SUDAN became the country’s second export after oil in 2015 and 2016, and helped to diversify the economic base of the world’s youngest nation. In 2016, Nespresso launched the limited editions AURORA de la PAZ, its first coffee from the Caquetá, Colombia, conflict region, and CAFECITO de CUBA the first Cuban coffee to come to the United States in more than fifty years (exclusive for the US). In 2019, Nespresso officially launched its Reviving Origins program alongside new single-origin coffees from Eastern Zimbabwe - TAMUKA mu ZIMBABWE - and Caquetá, Colombia - ESPERANZA de COLOMBIA - followed by CAFECITO de PUERTO RICO (exclusive for the US), supporting the rebuilding of coffee farming in Puerto Rico after hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

22 May 2020

Cayman Islands: COVID-19’s Impact on Cayman’s Financial Services Market

CML Offshore Recruitment surveyed business leaders for their opinions and observations on COVID-19's impact on Cayman's Financial Services Market. Leaders point to their business only being marginally impacted, if at all, and a bit of good fortune that affords their staff to relatively effectively carry on with their work from remotely connected locations. While many will perceive challenges and roadblocks to overcome, it seems a good number of leaders already have their eyes on the opportunities ahead.

COVID-19’s Impact on Cayman’s Financial Services Market

18 May 2020

Raconteur: The Future CMO 2020

What do consumers want from advertising during COVID-19? And what will the post-lockdown customer mindset be like? The Future CMO special report looks at how markets are having to rapidly adapt to changing customer behaviours while still keeping sight of long-term strategies and campaigns for after lockdown. It explores the shift in buying patterns and preferences, how to ensure your brand purpose can survive, and the future of virtual influencers. It examines how a pair of ad school students made out-of-home campaigns go viral. Also, the featured infographic looks at how advertising spending for this year has changed and what the expectations for 2021 spending are.

15 May 2020

Forbes Africa - Mauritius: Africa's Business Landscape

With a flourishing democracy and business-friendly government, one of the world’s most beautiful and scenic islands also happens to be one of Africa’s wealthiest nations.

07 May 2020

European Commission steps up fight against money laundering and terrorist financing

The European Commission has today put forward a comprehensive approach to further strengthen the EU's fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

The Commission has published an ambitious and multifaceted Action Plan, which sets out concrete measures that the Commission will take over the next 12 months to better enforce, supervise and coordinate the EU's rules on combating money laundering and terrorist financing. The aim of this new, comprehensive approach is to shut down any remaining loopholes and remove any weak links in the EU's rules.

Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said: "We need to put an end to dirty money infiltrating our financial system. Today we are further bolstering our defences to fight money laundering and terrorist financing, with a comprehensive and far-reaching Action Plan. There should be no weak links in our rules and their implementation. We are committed to delivering on all these actions - swiftly and consistently – over the next 12 months. We are also strengthening the EU's global role in terms of shaping international standards on fighting money laundering and terrorism financing.”

The Commission has also published today a more transparent, refined methodology to identify high-risk third countries that have strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing regimes that pose significant threats to the EU's financial system. This will enhance our engagement with third countries and ensure greater cooperation with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Finally, the Commission has also adopted a new list of third countries with strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing frameworks.

Action Plan for a Comprehensive EU policy on Preventing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing

Today's Action Plan is built on six pillars, each of which is aimed at improving the EU's overall fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as strengthening the EU's global role in this area. When combined, these six pillars will ensure that EU rules are more harmonised and therefore more effective. The rules will be better supervised and there will be better coordination between Member State authorities.

The six pillars are as follows:
  1. Effective application of EU rules: the Commission will continue to monitor closely the implementation of EU rules by Member States to ensure that national rules are in line with the highest possible standards. In parallel, today's Action Plan encourages the European Banking Authority (EBA) to make full use of its new powers to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.
  2. A single EU rulebook: while current EU rules are far-reaching and effective, Member States tend to apply them in a wide variety of different manners. Diverging interpretations of the rules therefore lead to loopholes in our system, which can be exploited by criminals. To combat this, the Commission will propose a more harmonised set of rules in the first quarter of 2021.
  3. EU-level supervision: currently it is up to each Member State to individually supervise EU rules in this area and as a result, gaps can develop in how the rules are supervised. In the first quarter of 2021, the Commission will propose to set up an EU-level supervisor.
  4. A coordination and support mechanism for Member State Financial Intelligence Units: Financial Intelligence Units in Member States play a critical role in identifying transactions and activities that could be linked to criminal activities. In the first quarter of 2021, the Commission will propose to establish an EU mechanism to help further coordinate and support the work of these bodies.
  5. Enforcing EU-level criminal law provisions and information exchange: Judicial and police cooperation, on the basis of EU instruments and institutional arrangements, is essential to ensure the proper exchange of information.The private sector can also play a role in fighting money laundering and terrorist financing. The Commission will issue guidance on the role of public-private partnerships to clarify and enhance data sharing.
  6. The EU's global role: the EU is actively involved within the Financial Action Task Force and on the world stage in shaping international standards in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. We are determined to step up our efforts so that we are a single global actor in this area. In particular, the EU will need to adjust its approach to third countries with deficiencies in their regime regarding anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing that put our Single Market at risk. The new methodology issued alongside this Action Plan today provides the EU with the necessary tools to do so. Pending the application of the revised methodology, today's updated EU list ensures better alignment with the latest FATF (Financial Action Task Force) list.
To ensure inclusive discussions on the development of these policies, the Commission launched a public consultation today on the Action Plan. Authorities, stakeholders and citizens will have until 29 July to provide their feedback.

Refined methodology

The Commission has today published a new methodology to identify high-risk third countries that have strategic deficiencies in their national anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing regimes, which pose significant threats to the EU's financial system. The aim of this new methodology is to provide more clarity and transparency in the process of identifying these third countries. The key new elements concern: (i) the interaction between the EU and FATF listing process; (ii) an enhanced engagement with third countries; and (iii) reinforced consultation of Member States experts.The European Parliament and the Council will have access to all relevant information at the different stages of the procedures, subject to appropriate handling requirements.

Updated List

Under the Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD), the Commission has a legal obligation to identify high-risk third countries with strategic deficiencies in their regime regarding anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing. Pending the application of the above-mentioned refined methodology, the Commission has today revised its list, taking into account developments at international level since 2018. The new list is now better aligned with the lists published by the FATF.

Countries which have been listed: The Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Cambodia, Ghana, Jamaica, Mauritius, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Panama and Zimbabwe.

Countries which have been delisted: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Guyana, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Sri Lanka and Tunisia.

The Commission amended the list in the form of a Delegated Regulation. It will now be submitted to the European Parliament and Council for approval within one month (with a possible one-month extension).Given the Coronavirus crisis, the date of application of today's Regulation listing third countries – and therefore applying new protective measures – only applies as of 1 October 2020. This is to ensure that all stakeholders have time to prepare appropriately. The delisting of countries, however, is not affected by this and will enter into force 20 days after publication in the Official Journal.

Background

The Commission's Anti-Money Laundering Package of July 2019 highlighted a number of weaknesses in the EU's anti-money laundering / countering the financing of terrorism framework. While the transposition and entry into force of recent legislation will address some of these issues, other problems remain. In response to this package, the European Parliament and the Council invited the Commission to investigate what steps could be taken to achieve a more harmonised set of rules, better supervision, including at EU level, as well as improved coordination among Financial Intelligence Units. Today's Action Plan is the Commission's reply to this call for action, and the first step to achieve the Commission's priority to deliver a new, comprehensive framework to fight money laundering and terrorist financing. The new methodology to identify and mitigate threats that strategic deficiencies in the anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing of third countries pose to the integrity of the EU's financial system, also issued today, will further equip the EU to deal with external risks.

04 May 2020

Raconteur: Future of Authentication 2020

With 60 per cent of hacking incidents now involving the use of stolen credentials, how can companies use authentication to provide additional protection? Our Future of Authentication special report examines the growth of the authentication sector as data breaches and cyber attacks persist. It explores how home working has forced companies to assess their authentication methods that keep data secure, the privacy and ethical concerns surrounding behavioural biometrics, and flaws in voice ID tech. It looks at what is being done to eliminate racial bias in facial recognition, and move away from reliance on limited datasets that fail to represent society as a whole. Finally, the infographic focuses on various ways companies are identifying employees and protecting the wider organisation, and how they are taking steps to improve cyber-resilience.