Chair of secretive tax body dodges inquiry committee

Title photo © barnyz

Fabrizia Lapecorella, the Chair of the secretive Code of Conduct Group (CoCG), has turned down Parliament’s invitation to appear in front of the Inquiry Committee into Money Laundering, Tax Avoidance and Tax Evasion (PANA). She had been invited for the PANA hearing on 30 May at which the Committee will also question Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

In her letter, which is dated 19 April, but only arrived in Brussels on 3 May, Ms Lapecorella declines the invitation, as she does not see in how far the work of the PANA Committee overlaps with that of the CoCG. “[Parliament’s] committees of inquiry are tasked to investigate alleged contraventions or maladministration in the implementation of Union law.” The CoCG wsa established, however, as an inter-governmental body to assess harmful national tax measures that lie outside of the competences of the European Union. Ms Lapecorella thus concludes that “our respective fields of action do not seem to meet in this respect.”

We have already blogged about the CoCG’s failure in producing a sound tax haven black list here and why a reform of the group is direly needed here. The group was set up back in 1998 to deal with all things related to harmful tax competition between Member States. In the 19 years since its inception it has failed spectacularly in producing any meaningful results. Indeed, as internal documents show, the group has actually been used to block any meaningful advances in the fight against tax dumping (the Guardian reported on this earlier this year).

It is not the first time that the Council has obstructed the work of the PANA committee. As you can read in our post here, the Council has from the very beginning opposed its investigations. Ms Lapecorella’s no-show is just the latest attempt by Member States to hide their shady tax deals from public scrutiny.