Tax havens with “no economic justification”, so what are Japan’s Marubeni and Itochu going to do?

When the Panama Papers news hit the internet several weeks ago, it was revealed that two of Japan’s largest corporations, Marubeni Corp. and Itochu Corp. (biggest trading house in Japan) were listed as “shareholders or directors of at least 270 entities in offshore tax havens, the so-called Panama Papers show”. Personally, there should be a genuine tax revolt in Japan to end this corporate domination of Japan Inc. Ditching assets in Panama are you Marubeni and Itochu? These two large Japanese corporations wouldn’t have been able to ditch assets in Panama dispersed over 270 entities without the knowledge of Japanese government and financial insiders, so much for Japan’s much vaunted “open and transparent corporate governance”. And there is no telling the amount which could be in the billions of dollars sitting in Panama front companies holding Marubeni and Itochu assets?

In this recent article in The Guardian, it is suggesting that there is no “economic justification” for corporate assets to be held in offshore companies and that it is time to “lift the secrecy”. Despite only Marubeni and Itochu having been mentioned in the Panama Papers, there are no doubt other Japanese corporations holding assets in offshore locations we will probably never know about. If this “automatic exchange of ownership of shell companies also include Japanese corporations and banks? Itochu is ranked #241 on Forbes’ list of Global 2,000 top corporations. Itochu has a current market cap of US$17.8 billion with revenue of US$58.3 billion in 2014 despite Japan’s economy “shrinking.”

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Source: The Guardian

Tax havens have no economic justification, say top economists

Thomas Piketty and Jeffrey Sachs among signatories of letter urging world leaders at UK anti-corruption summit to lift secrecy

Panama Papers The British Virgin Islands. More than half of the companies set up by Mossack Fonseca, the law firm in the Panama Papers leak, were incorporated in British overseas territories such as BVI. Photograph: Alamy

by Patrick Wintour

May 9, 2016

More than 300 economists, including Thomas Piketty, are urging world leaders at a London summit this week to recognise that there is no economic benefit to tax havens, demanding that the veil of secrecy that surrounds them be lifted.

David Cameron agreed to host the summit nearly a year ago, but the event is in danger of simply turning a spotlight on how the British government has failed to persuade its overseas territories to stop harbouring secretly stored cash.

British officials are locked in negotiations with the crown dependencies and overseas territories, trying to persuade them to agree to a form of automatic exchange of information on beneficial ownership of companies. So far the overseas territories have only agreed to allow UK law enforcement agencies access to a privately held register of beneficial ownership, but the automatic exchange agreement would give a wider range of countries access to information on the ownership of shell companies.

Many overseas territories including the Cayman Islands are resisting the idea, and their attendance at the summit is in doubt.

Apart from Piketty, author of the bestselling Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the impressive roll call of economists includes Angus Deaton, the Edinburgh-born 2015 Nobel prize-winner for economics, and Ha-Joon Chang, the highly regarded development economist at Cambridge University.

Please go to The Guardian website to read the entire article.

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