FUTI Presents Lecture by Distinguished International Tax Expert, Krishen Mehta:The Panama Papers in Perspective — How Illicit Capital Flows Make Us All Vulnerable

krishenmehta1krishenmehta2On May 17th, Professor Krishen Mehta (Senior Global Justice Fellow at Yale University) gave a lecture themed “The Panama Papers in Perspective ―- How Illicit Capital Flows Make Us All Vulnerable”. Since the Panama Papers are sensationally spurring a debate, 36 people, mainly University of Tokyo alumni, gathered to listen to the lecture by professor Mehta, who is a renowned expert in the field of international tax and accounting, and co-edited “Global Tax Fairness” (Oxford University Press).
The lecture consisted of seven questions, the first of which was “what is a tax haven,” followed by the answers to those questions. Tax havens are areas or countries which have zero or low tax rates. Off-shore tax havens are estimated to be valued at  $25 trillion while the US GDP is $18 trillion and Japan’s is $6 trillion. While the rate of growth of tax haven money is 10% annually, the GDP growth globally is 3%. The two countries who utilize tax havens and have accumulated wealth and high growth are the U.S. and the U.K. Professor Mehta pointed out that a tax haven is actually a system which exploits the poor or developing countries legally. Currently, wealth from these countries flow into the tax havens, strengthening the structure of disparity.
krishenmehta3The extensive presence of tax havens sinisterly affects law-abiding countries like Japan. Japanese companies pay 30% corporate tax. It would be difficult to compete with other foreign countries who pay much lower tax rates.
krishenmehta4Professor Mehta also presented several possible solutions to the current situation such as, “Financial secrecy must be reduced. Banks should keep track of money flow” and “We must protect whistle blowers.” In the end, he introduced a quote by Pascal “Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just”. After the lecture, many participants asked detailed questions to Professor Mehta and had a substantial discussion even with limited time.
Written by Minami Goto

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