Top Stories

June 08, 2017


Nations agree corporate tax avoidance crackdown

Some 70 countries have signed a pact to crack down on international tax avoidance, with changes that backers say will increase the worldwide corporate tax take by up to 10 per cent. Countries including the EU’s 28 members, India, China and Australia – but not the US – signed a pioneering agreement in Paris that will make changes to thousands of treaties to halt abuse by companies and improve dispute resolution. The accord is part of an initiative launched by the G20 group of leading nations to tackle “base erosion and profit shifting” – tax avoidance strategies that shift profits to low or no-tax jurisdictions – in the wake of a public backlash over avoidance by companies such as Amazon, Apple and Google. The accord is intended to put a stop to “treaty shopping” – the practice of routing income to countries with attractive tax treaties via “brass plate” companies with little presence on the ground beyond a mailing address. (Financial Times*)

Supply Chain

21 percent of palm oil now responsibly sourced

According to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO), almost 12 million tonnes, or 21 percent of the global supply of palm oil, is now certified as responsible and sustainable. Several factors are said to behind the growth of sustainably sourced palm oil, including increased consumer demand and government regulations. According to Darrel Webber, the CEO of RSPO, improvements in the monitoring and auditing of palm oil operations have also helped the organisation’s cause. Additionally, grievances related to working conditions and human rights are being handled more quickly. Leveraging the power of investors also appears to be making a difference. (Triple Pundit)

Corporate Reputation

Uber fires 20 amid investigation into workplace culture

Uber has fired 20 employees over harassment, discrimination and inappropriate behaviour, as the ride-hailing company tries to contain the fallout from a series of toxic revelations about its workplace. The firings – which include senior executives – were aimed at tackling what many at Uber say are deep-rooted management and cultural issues, which have made the company a cautionary tale for what can go wrong with Silicon Valley’s often freewheeling corporate culture. On top of the sexual harassment investigation, a top Uber executive reportedly obtained the medical records of a woman who was raped by her Uber driver, and was only fired after journalists learned of the incident. The firings stem from an internal investigation into Uber’s workplace. Separately, Uber hired former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. to conduct an independent investigation, some of which Uber plans to make public next week.  (New York Times, Financial Times*, Guardian)

Human Rights

Airlines urged to step up fight against human trafficking

Airlines are being urged to train more flight attendants to help prevent human trafficking, placing cabin crew on the front line of the fight against sexual exploitation and slavery. Airline leaders meeting in Mexico will be briefed by the United Nations agency responsible for tackling the largely hidden crime, which the UN says nets smugglers $150 billion profit a year. According to the International Labour Organization, almost 21 million people are in forced labour, meaning three out of every 1,000 people on the planet are enslaved at any given time. In a case that sprang to public attention in February, an Alaska Airlines flight attendant helped rescue a teenage girl from alleged trafficking on-board a domestic U.S. flight in 2011 by leaving her a note in the toilet. (Thomson Reuters)


Corned beef pulled off UK supermarket shelves due to alleged slavery links

UK supermarket Waitrose is taking its own-brand corned beef from Brazil off supermarket shelves after an investigation found the products could contain meat linked to slave labour on cattle farms. Documents show that JBS, one of the world’s largest meat processing companies, previously purchased cattle from a farm under federal investigation for using workers as modern-day slaves. JBS says it ceased buying from the farm on discovering the alleged link to labour abuses. The company exports meat products to 150 countries around the world. Its produce is used in tinned corned beef sold by other major retailers. Lidl and the Co-op also said they were conducting internal supply chain investigations. M&S said it stopped buying corned beef from Brazil at the end of 2016. Sainsbury’s and Princes said their business was conducted in line with ethical and global standards. (Guardian)

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