Economist and Green MEP Molly Scott Cato has today responded to her appointment onto the European Parliament’s Panama papers committee of inquiry by saying that she thinks the Chancellor George Osborne must be called to give evidence.
The committee of inquiry, agreed by MEPs this week, will probe member states following revelations in the Panama papers on how Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca helped clients launder money, dodge sanctions and evade tax. The committee will assess whether member states failed to enforce EU rules on anti-money laundering or failed to alert each other and share information when they suspected tax evasion .
Over half of the papers involved British overseas territories. Molly says her first demand as a member of the committee will be to call on George Osborne to attend to explain why the UK government continues to facilitate overseas territories that act as tax havens. She said:
“This investigation needs to follow the money right to the top. The Panama Papers revealed the UK to be at the centre of the global network of tax havens that facilitate tax avoidance and crime. The chancellor must be made accountable for this, particularly in light of hollow promises he has made to be cracking down on tax avoidance.
Molly is confident the committee of inquiry will hold those identified by the Panama papers to account. She said:
“The setting up of an inquiry is an important gain by Greens in the European Parliament. It will move us closer to holding corporations and wealthy individuals to account. We have for months been pressing hard for a proper investigation into the Panama papers and our hard work has paid off. This inquiry will also allow us to scrutinise where governments have not kept to EU laws and to finally hold those big businesses and the super-rich to account. Just as importantly though we have to be asking hard questions to George Osborne in order to get to the bottom of how the UK’s crown dependencies and overseas territories are still acting as tax havens.
She continued, “The best way to tackle tax avoidance is at EU level. This is an international problem that needs an international solution. The Europe wide response that this inquiry represents is clearly the best way to tackle tax dodging. The best way to hold our government, big business and the super-rich to account is to be part of the EU and this inquiry.”
 Full mandate of the Committee of inquiry.