A group of non governmental organisations (NGOs) is lobbying the European Commission to cancel a contract with PwC to produce a detailed review of the impact of country by country tax reporting.
In a letter to Michel Barnier, internal markets competition commissioner at the European Commission, the 32-strong group of NGOs, including ActionAid, Christian Aid and Oxfam from the UK, said: ‘We are writing to you to raise our concern regarding the appointment of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) to assess the economic impact of making country-by-country reporting (CBCR) information for the banking sector available to the public, in conformity with article 89 of the Capital Requirement Directive (CRD) IV, adopted in June 2013’.
The group highlighted ongoing concerns about ‘tax dodging by multinationals’ and said ‘we are calling upon you to respect this engagement and make sure that the CBCR assessment will not be carried out by a company, which has a biased position and conflicting interests in the matter’.
The European Commission has no plans to review or cancel the review project, but it confirmed that the PwC report would be the background for the final recommendations, rather than the final word on the subject.
In response to the lobbying effort, European commission spokesperson Chantal Hughes said: ‘We are aware of the concerns expressed, which we take, as always, very seriously.
‘The Commission was tasked by co-legislators to do a review to assess the possible effect of country by country reporting by financial institutions on issues like competitiveness, investment and credit availability and financial stability. To do this extensive review well, and considering limited resources, it needs the expertise and contributions of outside consultants.
‘A normal competitive tendering process was held in accordance with the rules on public procurement, following which PWC EU Services EEIG, an entity separate from the audit and advisory services of PwC, was selected. Their factual input will be important; however the report itself will of course be written by the Commission and the Commission will draw its own conclusions, which will be based on the report but also on important input from other stakeholders and sources.
‘The Commission services are in regular contact with the contractor throughout the process. The contract with PWC EU services EEIG has clear provisions dealing with conflict of interests.’
The letter came as Barclays became the first UK banking group to publish detailed country by country reporting on its tax affairs.
PwC was unable to comment due to client confidentiality.
To read the NGO letter in full, Letter to Barnier - PWC Absolute Final.pdf
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