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Occupy London calls for an end to tax havens, for lobbying transparency and personal accountability for executives

  • Initial statement of Corporations Policy Group ratified by Occupy London’s General Assembly
  • Occupy London asks corporations to engage in dialogue working together to create a socially responsible and sustainable economic system.

As Chancellor George Osborne prepares to set out his Autumn Statement on Tuesday, Occupy London – a diverse group of people coming together to challenge social and economic inequality as part of the fight for real democracy – today issued a call for an end to tax havens and schemes that enable the wealthiest in our society to avoid paying their fair share of tax.

It also called for full transparency in corporate lobbying, to be enforced by an independent regulator, and for a change to the current system of corporate accountability that would make decision-makers personally responsible for their actions.

Published as part of Occupy London’s Corporations Policy Working Group’s initial statement, these remedies are intended to begin to address the challenges facing the world Occupy London sees as unfairly dominated by large businesses which wield wholly disproportionate influence, and where politics and the corporate world are “intertwined”.

The third policy statement endorsed by Occupy London – in occupation at St Pauls since 15 October, Finsbury Square since 26 October, and which on 18 November in an act of “public repossession” turned investment bank UBS’s abandoned offices on Sun Street into a Bank of Ideas – its ratification signifies the beginning of the UK Occupy movement putting forward structural alternatives to the present system. The move also follows its initial statement of 16 October and recent publication of its first statement of its City of London Policy Group. [1] [2]

“From the moment the Occupy London Stock Exchange occupation started, in the full glare of the media and in the court of public opinion, we have continually been asked what do you want? What are your demands?” commented Jamie Kelsey, supporter of Occupy London and a member of its Corporations Policy Group.

“For us, the first stage has been a focus on creating a space for dialogue – both physically and politically – bringing people together to educate each other, raise awareness of critical inequalities and to begin examining potential alternatives to the current system – both in terms of incremental changes, as well as the more radical.

“What you are now seeing is the beginning of the next stage with the publication of Occupy London’s policies which detail what we want. We are calling time on a system where corporates and their employees pursue profit at all costs. Just as corporates have played their role in the iniquities of the current system, they are also part of the solution and we invite them to join this important conversation. It is time for a more just society for the benefit of the many, rather than the few, and we together can make that happen.”

The statement was passed by the Occupy London’s Stock Exchange camp (OccupyLSX) at St Paul’s Churchyard as part of its General Assembly on Friday. This was the second time the proposal had been brought before the Assembly: on its first appearance before the GA, the statement was blocked by two supporters of OccupyLSX, who then joined the working group to help produce the second draft.

This is the first policy statement of many from the Corporations group detailing steps forward – expect more in the coming months.

Initial statement of the Corporations Working Group, as passed by the OccupyLSX General Assembly on 25th November

“Of the world’s 100 largest economic entities in 2000, 51 were corporations and 49 were countries. [3]

With its relentless pursuit of profit at all cost, the present corporate system fits the definition of a psychopath, driving the rapid destruction of our society and the natural environment. [4]

This is done only to benefit a small minority and not the needs of the 99 per cent. The way corporations and governments are intertwined fundamentally undermines democracy. Corporations are rarely transparent or accountable to the people. This corporate system is broken and we call on the people to reclaim their power and bring about a radical and immediate change.

We propose these following points as first steps towards this:

Globally, corporations deprive the public purse of hundreds of billions of pounds each year, leaving insufficient funds to provide people with fair living standards. We must abolish tax havens and complex tax avoidance schemes, and ensure corporations pay tax that accurately reflects their real profits.

Corporate lobbying subverts our democracy. Last year corporations spent £2 billion influencing the British government. We believe exploitative corporate lobbying has no place in a democratic society. Legislation to ensure full and public transparency of all corporate lobbying activities must be put in place. This should be overseen by a credible and independent body, directly accountable to the people.

The existing system of corporate sanctions allows executives and board members to avoid individual responsibility for the consequences of their actions and inactions. Those directly involved in the decision-making process must be held personally liable for their role in the misdeeds of their corporations and duly charged for all criminal behaviour.

A welcome development at Occupy London is that many people working within these corporations have communicated support for our concerns. We encourage anyone to come forward and offer their opinions, or any relevant information, either openly or confidentially, to add to this discussion.

We recognise that corporate employees may feel like they do not have the power alone to create change, but by welcoming them into talks with Occupy London and working together, we can create a socially responsible and sustainable economic system.”

[1] http://occupylsx.org/?page_id=575
[2] http://occupylsx.org/?p=839
[3] Sales: Fortune, July 31, 2000. GDP: World Bank, World Development Report 2000
[4] http://www.thecorporation.com/index.cfm?page_id=47http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0218-01.htm

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