Following the publication of the #OpenLux survey in the national and international press, the Collectif Tax Justice Lëtzebuerg (CTJL) has issued a press statement in which it presents its opinion on the subject of transparency and openness.
The survey findings, published on Monday, were the result of a collaborative investigation conducted by Le Monde, with the participation of several journalists and investigative media, including WOXX, over the past year.
CTJL maintained that despite some "real and concrete progress" in terms of transparency and openness in Luxembourg in recent years, such as the establishment of a Register of Beneficial Owners (Registre de bénéficiaires effectifs - RBE), these efforts remain "insufficient". The collective added that the country and its leaders had failed to make "a lasting break with the past of secrecy jurisdiction" despite the assurances offered by Prime Minister Xavier Bettel during his last State of the Nation address. CTJL stressed that the continued existence of many companies "without any real economic substance" gives rise to fears that the financialisation of the Luxembourg economy will continue "at the risk of the country's productive and creative economy".
The collective also maintained that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how much humanity is interdependent and how much collective solutions are needed to overcome "not only the disease but also the deep socio-economic injustices and inequalities" that have facilitated the spread of the virus. The collective stressed that the impact of the financial centre in terms of investments by collective investment organisations in polluting companies was also "worrying", as highlighted in a recent report by Greenpeace Luxembourg.
CTJL urged the Luxembourg government, which "reacted quickly to the investigation" with the establishment of an information page www.openlux.lu, to show "real political will to fight tax evasion by very wealthy multinationals and individuals". They argued that it was not enough to "take refuge behind excuses" such as the application of the "insufficient" standards of the OECD or the European Union. The collective warned that advertising campaigns such as "Luxembourg - Let’s Make It Happen" cannot replace the creation of a real culture of openness and good governance in the public interest.
In order to seize the opportunity offered by these latest publications, the CTJL has urged the Luxembourg authorities to:
- strengthen the capacities of the CSSF, the Ministry of Finance, the Luxembourg Business Registers and the Financial Intelligence Unit in order to establish a balance with the vast system of private industry, in particular the Big Four;
- conduct an in-depth public debate on the risks of the financialisation of the Luxembourg economy, as well as its impact on climate change;
- renew Luxembourg's international solidarity with its neighbours and other countries of the international community by fighting against tax evasion by multinational companies and large fortunes in order not to extract the necessary income in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis and inequalities;
- legislate on due diligence for private companies, especially in the financial sector;
- support investigative journalism and develop an action plan to protect journalists and media workers in Luxembourg and internationally;
- undertake in-depth reforms and adopt ambitious and comprehensive legislation for the protection of whistleblowers;
- diligently investigate cases of fraud, money laundering or organised crime reported in this investigation as well as in previous and future revelations in order to protect the rule of law and build national and international confidence in Luxembourg.