OECD Data Puts Global Offshore Wealth At $11.3 Trillion

Tom Burroughes Group Editor July 2, 2020


A new report from the Paris-based organization, which for years has campaigned against "harmful" tax competition and financial secrecy. FWR will not be published on July 3 for the US public holiday, and resumes on July 6.

The total size of all offshore assets in 2019 stood at €10 trillion ($11.3 trillion), based on 84 countries passing each other information under automatic exchange agreements, figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development show. The OECD said the data begs the question about how governments try and grab a slice of it. 

A year before, figures from 47 million financial accounts showed that a total of €5 trillion was held offshore, indicating how a wider net of data collection from more jurisdictions can boost the number. 

The OECD’s latest figure is not far different from the $9.6 trillion sum measured in a Boston Consulting Group report issued a few weeks ago. 

“Automatic exchange of information is a game changer,” OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría, said. “This system of multilateral exchange created by the OECD….is providing countries around the world, including many developing countries, with a wealth of new information, empowering their tax administrations to ensure that offshore accounts are being properly declared.”

“Countries are going to raise much needed revenue, especially critical now in light of the current COVID-19 crisis, while moving closer to a world where there is nowhere left to hide,” he said. 

Automatic exchange of information agreements, collectively known under a framework called the Common Reporting Standard, are controversial, however. Mishcon de Reya partner Filippo Noseda recently told this news service that cybersecurity breaches in a number of countries pose a privacy threat to individuals whose details are covered by data transfers. (The US is not covered by the CRS, but obtains data about expat US citizens under the FATCA legislation of 2010. This legislation has raised similar questions on compliance burdens and financial privacy.)

Commenting on the latest OECD data, Noseda said: “the amount of €10 trillion exchanged under the CRS in 2019 is more than double the total annual GDP of Germany ($4 trillion) and almost 20 times the GDP of Austria ($450 billion).”

“These huge numbers indicate the scale of the data security risk for compliant citizens. To illustrate this point, we [Mishcon de Reya] published a 31-page long hacking and data breaches list that shows very clearly the sorry state of data security of tax authorities, other government authorities and financial institutions. The OECD has already acknowledged that CRS data has been stolen in at least one occasion and this is the tip of the iceberg," he added.

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