Barclays boss told "Don't be a banker for tax-dodgers" as campaigners descend on contentious Annual General Meeting

by ActionAid | ActionAid
Thursday, 24 April 2014 12:00 GMT

* Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Barclays assists businesses operating in poor countries across Africa set up in tax havens via its Offshore Corporate business. Once in tax havens, companies are able to legally avoid potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in tax.

Activists from around the UK are travelling to Barclay's AGM to demand that Barclays boss, Antony Jenkins, lives up to the promise he made last year to make Barclays a "force for good".

In spite of 50,000 complaints from angry customers and activists across Europe and Africa, Barclays has so far refused to stop helping its big business clients set up in tax havens.

An Early Day Motion asking Barclays to close down its Offshore Corporate business has been signed by 35 MPs including Margaret Hodge, Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, who has been prominent in criticising tax avoidance by large companies.

Over USD$20 trillion of companies' and individuals financial assets are believed to be held in tax havens. Best available estimates suggest developing countries could be losing enough tax revenues on this wealth to fund the education of all the children currently out of school around the world, and pay for all the agricultural investments needed to tackle chronic hunger.

Tom Fyans, Head of Campaigns for ActionAid said: "The winners at this year's AGM are likely to be  Barclays' hugely expensive fleet of investment bankers who plan to award themselves millions of pounds  in bonuses. But the losers will be people in some of the world's poorest countries.

"Barclays continues to help businesses operating in poor African countries set up in known tax havens. As long as it continues to do this – Antony Jenkins' promise that his bank is "changing" looks increasingly hollow."