The ‘Pandora papers’ disclosed today reveal that Australia is a weak link in the fight against international tax avoidance, with accounting firms and real estate agents excluded from having to report to financial regulators over many suspicious transactions, giving these Australian firms a competitive advantage when orchestrating money laundering schemes for the super-rich.
Australia is one of only six countries in the world where accountants, lawyers and real estate agents are not required to report under anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.
The Greens attempted to amend government anti-money laundering legislation last year to remove the exemption for accountants, lawyers and real estate agents and require them to report to AUSTRAC, but Liberal and Labor joined together to defeat the amendment.
Quotes attributable to Greens Leader, Adam Bandt:
“Billionaires are rorting the system and Liberal and Labor are letting them get away with it.
“Liberal and Labor take donations from the billionaires and big corporations, but the Greens don’t. In balance of power the Greens will push to make billionaires pay their fair share by closing these loopholes and imposing a Billionaires Tax that works.
“Billionaires offshoring cash to avoid tax is a long-standing open secret. By closing the loopholes and imposing the Greens’ 6% Billionaires Tax and Tycoon Taxes, we can make them pay their fair share.
Quotes attributable to Greens Treasury Spokesperson, Senator Nick McKim:
“The Greens tried to close this loophole but Liberal and Labor stopped us.
“Liberal and Labor have turned Australia into the money laundromat of the South Pacific.
“It would be simple to fix the massive loophole that exists. It’s been 15 years since mandatory reporting requirements for banks and casinos were introduced and tranche 2 - accountants, lawyers and real estate agents - was first promised.”
“Late last year the Greens proposed amendments to a government bill that would have required lawyers, accountants and real estate agents to be included in the scope of AML-CTF reporting requirements. Both major parties voted against the amendment.
“The Pandora Papers show that accountants and real estate are a critical loophole that is exploited to turn income into assets without tax.
“Our government is making it easier, not harder for billionaires to dodge the taxman, and it’s Australian people that are losing out."