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Banking secrecy in Belgium has been improved and that’s not OK

Belgium rises from 50th to 26th place on the Financial Secrecy Index 2022 announced today by the Tax Justice Network. The Financial Secrecy Index ranks jurisdictions according to the intensity with which a country allows individuals to hide and launder money from around the world. The higher the country is in the ranking, the greater the influence of the country on financial transparency and offshore financial activities.

“A higher ranking in the index does not necessarily mean that a jurisdiction has more secrecy laws, but it does mean that the jurisdiction plays a more important role at a global level by allowing banking secrecy, anonymous ownership of empty companies, anonymous ownership of real estate or other forms of financial secrecy, which in turn allow money laundering, tax evasion and evasion of sanctions,” says Julien Desiderio, policy officer Tax Justice at Oxfam Belgium.

Belgium is criticised in particular for its lack of transparency in identifying the ultimate beneficiaries of certain assets and companies, but also for not providing the tax administration and the court with sufficient resources to combat money laundering, tax evasion and illegal cash flows.

“These institutions need to be given more budgetary and technical resources so that they can fight financial crime effectively. To this end, it is imperative that governments commit to a global asset register to bring transparency to the trillions of assets and assets held in secret in foreign jurisdictions,” said Julien Desiderio.

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