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December 21, 2012

Corporate Citizenship’s pick of the year from the Daily Media Briefing

Corporate Responsibility

Starbucks denies avoiding UK tax

Starbucks has admitted a quarter of its 600 UK-owned stores are running at a loss in a rebuttal of accusations of tax avoidance, blaming its low corporate tax payments on overexpansion. In an interview with the Financial Times, Troy Alstead, chief financial officer of the global coffee chain, said: “I look forward to the day when we pay a lot more tax … we have had a long history…and we made a lot of mistakes.” Starbucks, has come under fire from MPs and suffered threat of boycott from its customers after Reuters published an investigation showing that it had paid just £8.6m in the UK in corporate tax since 1998 and reported losses in years when it told investors that its UK operation was profitable. (24th October)

I don't deserve bonus, says Tesco chief

The boss of Tesco turned down a £372,000 bonus as he accepted responsibility for the group's "unsatisfactory" performance. The chief executive said in a statement: "I wasn't satisfied with the performance in the UK and I won't take the bonus. I'm confident that we're tackling the right issues and building a better Tesco for customers, colleagues and shareholders." The move also follows a series of bloody encounters between big companies and institutional shareholders over pay. Sly Bailey, of newspaper group Trinity Mirror, Andrew Moss, the Aviva boss, and David Brennan, of AstraZeneca, have all issued their resignations as investors seek action on remuneration. (23rd May)

Libor scandal: Seven banks summoned in US probe

Seven banks, including HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland, are to be questioned in the US for alleged manipulation of the London Interbank Offered Rate (Libor) lending rate. Barclays, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and UBS have also received subpoenas from the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut. Last month, Barclays was fined £290 million by UK and US regulators for rigging Libor. The investigation is predicated on the assumption that at least one other bank must have colluded with Barclays in any attempts to manipulate Libor rates, which are used as a reference to price trillions of dollars of financial products. The US authorities will see whether supporting documents and testimony provide sufficient evidence for a criminal prosecution. A Government ordered review into Libor is currently being conducted by the managing director of the Financial Services Authority, Martin Wheatley. (16th August)


Rio+20 final draft document draws heavy criticism

The draft agreement to be signed by the world leaders at Rio+20 has been greeted with disappointment by delegates and NGOs, who state that the text is vague and watered-down. The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, acknowledged that negotiations had failed to live up to expectations, and urged leaders to work harder. Jim Leape, the head of WWF, described the text as “pathetic”, while Friends of the Earth's director of policy and campaigns Craig Bennett criticised “woolly definitions, old ideas and missing deadlines”. The document will be discussed at high-level talks this week, although it is thought unlikely that negotiations on the wording will be reopened. (21st June)

Average Chinese person's carbon footprint now equals European's

The average Chinese person's carbon footprint is now almost on a par with the average European's, new figures reveal. China became the largest national emitter of CO2 in 2006, though its emissions per person have always been lower than those in developed countries. The new report, by the PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency and the European commission's Joint Research Centre, finds that Chinese per capita emissions from energy rose to 7.2 tonnes per person in 2011 – just shy of the EU average of 7.5. Rising coal use in China, despite high-profile investments in renewables and smart cities, has closed the gap with the EU. However, one important factor in China’s emissions is the production of goods for export, account for almost a fifth of the total. A recent UK select committee report argued that it was important to account for the import and export of goods when considering national responsibility for climate change. (19th July)

What we think, Corporate Citizenship’s 5 most read blogs of 2012:

  1. Multinationals, aid and suicides: When good intentions aren’t good enough
  2. What should we be saying about sustainability?
  3. It’s good to give… even better to achieve!
  4. Oxfam getting it wrong
  5. Tax: Margaret Hodge the terminatrix