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Opinion

When are we going to talk about tax avoidance?

It won’t be long before banks are going to be answering to the public about their role in advising clients on tax avoidance.

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It is quite remarkable to me that we haven’t seen more fuss over the Paradise Papers. No marches. No sit-ins. No placards scrawled with: “What part of ‘governments are almost broke and public spending is being slashed’ did you miss?” 

Having covered private and corporate banking for 14 years, it wasn’t news to me that high net-worth individuals and companies employ financial advisers who help them legally avoid taxes under the guise of wealth preservation. 

But it had rather been my hope that, with the Paradise Papers following so swiftly on the heels of the Panama Papers, our collective camel’s back may have just broken and the people would have taken to the streets en masse. Apparently, we are not there... yet. 

Thanks to public pressure and a recognition that, if you want to get to the root of a problem, you target the financiers and middle men, there have been some great improvements in ethical business standards that started with changes in the banking sector. 

Some banks have dropped large pipeline projects or coalmines that pose environmental risks from the deal roster; and nearly all developed-economy banks have signed up to various agreements on human rights. 

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