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“Panama Papers”: fiscal responsibility, a critical social responsibility issue for banks



On April 7th 2016 Vigeo Eiris Rating sent a series of alerts to its clients, – investors and asset managers – on 24 companies linked to the “Panama Papers” affair.

These banks are listed as having created offshore companies in Panama for their clients through the law firm Mossack Fonseca. In the wake of these revelations, several banks were questioned by their national authorities: Société Générale, Nordea, Vorarlberger Landes- und Hypothekenbank and Raiffeisen Bank International.

This affair has had significant political and media repercussions, including the resignation of the Icelandic Prime Minister. Several members of the European Parliament started a petition for the prosecution of the banks and intermediaries that “let their clients hide their assets in tax havens without informing tax administrations on the suspicious activities of European citizens[1]

As part of its corporate social responsibility rating framework, Vigeo Eiris has been assessing the tax strategy of listed banks since 2007.

  • It appears that the engagments disclosed by the banking sector’s operators in terms of tax principles that they follow and processes that they implement are rare and often stated in general terms.
  • On a global scale, less than one bank out of three reports publicly on internal procedures dedicated to the prevention of tax evasion.
  • Less than one retail bank out of ten describes the measures taken to raise awareness among its clients against tax evasion.
  • In Vigeo Eiris’framework, on the criteria “Transparency of tax reporting and explanation of the company’s presence in offshore financial centers”, the banking sector’s average scores are weak: 39.8/100 for diversified banks in Europe and 29.3/100 in North America.

Furthermore, before these revelations several banks had already faced critics and allegations on their tax behaviour.

Vigeo Eiris assesses the visibility, the precision and the ownership of the banks’ engagement to adopt responsible tax strategies and report on them. The analysis also covers the banks’ publication of a tax payments’ reporting (by country, by region of operations, by division, etc.). The presence and nature of activities in offshore financial centers, their public justification, and more particularly the presence or not in jurisdictions considered by the OECD and the IMF as non compliant on tax transparency rules are also assessed.

Banks as companies not only are expected to implement a responsible tax strategy for themselves and report on it, but they also have a role to play as financial intermediaries, to prevent and avoid the tax evasion of their clients.
Vigeo Eiris has been monitoring very closely the companies involved and will re-evaluate their scores as much as necessary.

These events emphasise the need for external monitoring systems to address the tangibility of the information that companies publish on their own tax policies and tax payments, and that of their clients.


A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon




energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”



IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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