Cannot believe that I have not posted since over a year. It also goes to show how exciting life has been in some ways during this period, in addition to my undisciplined blogging!
Let me pick up from where I left. Or at least try to. It is almost as if I have to write two simultaneous blogposts albeit on very different subjects.
In the fall of 2013, on winning a scholarship, I headed to London for a course in ‘Investigating Illicit Finance, Financial Secrecy and Asset Recovery’ organized by the Centre for Investigative Journalism and Tax Justice Network at the City University of London. In the week long program, a bunch of investigative journalists and researchers from many parts of the world, were thrown in together to get primed on all issues related to illicit financial flows, shell companies, and tax evasion. It was an honor to meet the pros and several high profile journalists, who were writing and investigating this issue for years now.
Around the same time, I started freelancing for the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation’s Swissinfo.ch which is based in Bern. (In the past, I had written on the subject intermittently for an Indian newspaper on similar issues.)
This was also the time when tax evasion in India was gathering even more traction than before. It has since become a huge political issue, reinforced by the global campaign to crackdown on illicit financial flows.
At that time, fresh from my research about mining in Eastern India, I was blazing with curiosity trying to connect the dots between abusive resource extraction, loss of revenues for governments and huge untaxed profits siphoned off to tax havens, only to be round-tripped back home as foreign direct investment.
This will continue to be an evolving issue. For now though, it seems that tax evaders are moving funds faster than the cops and campaigners engaged in the fight to beat economic crime.
Platforms like the G20 and the OECD have played their part and contributed to this movement gaining critical mass over the last few years. Organizations like the Tax Justice Network and Global Financial Integrity are at the forefront of this crusade.
It seems reducing tax evasion has the third most effective benefit per dollar spent in various development targets in the context of post 2015 agenda.
What makes it more fascinating for me, personally, is to be writing about this, from Switzerland – the center for low corporate taxation (like The Netherlands), a tax haven (losing its position to London, Singapore, Delaware, Florida among others), a heaven for commodity traders and bankers etc etc. (Check out ICIJ’s expansive investigation on HSBC ‘Swissleaks’)
I wish to write more about this stuff, but I do this in addition to my full-time job in public health in Geneva. More on that, in the following post.