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The US tech giants scored less than three out of a possible ten in the Transparency International ranking, which rates the 124 firms on the Forbes list of the world’s largest publicly traded companies.
Transparency International, an influential, global civil society organisation, said 90 of the companies on the list do not disclose taxes paid in foreign countries. 54 of the multinationals, together worth more than US$14 trillion (about €11.2 trillion), give no information on their revenues in other countries. The information is needed, especially in developing countries, to ensure companies are paying the taxes they should, where they should.
Multinationals are marked on their reporting of overseas financial information, data about their subsidiaries and holdings, and disclosure of their anti-corruption measures. The final score is an average of the three factors taken into account.
Seven of the best performing multinationals are from Europe. Italian oil and gas company Eni came top with 7.3, followed by the UK’s Vodafone (6.7). The worst are from China, with the Bank of China propping up the list with a single point.
IBM got 2.9, with Apple taking 2.7, the same as Visa, Petrochina and US banking and financial services corporation Citigroup.
Google scooped just 2.2 out of ten. But Amazon had with just 2 points, putting it on a par with the communist-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and China Shenhua Energy Company.
That was still better than the lowest ranked US multinational, Berkshire Hathaway. The holding company, whose CEO and largest shareholder is Warren Buffett, scored just 1.6 points.
Russian oil behemoth Rosneft nabbed a comparatively respectable 4.2, while Gazprom got 3.5, the same score as Microsoft.
In the chart below, showing the 13 worst performers, the first coloured column represents anti-corruption programmes, the second organisational transparency and the third country-by-country reporting.
EurActiv has asked Google, Amazon and Apple for comment and will update the story when they are received. A spokesperson for Japan’s Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp, which was also among the bottom ten, told Reuters, “We want to continue to work towards appropriate disclosures.”
Amazon, Apple and Google are being investigated by European Commission over their tax arrangements in EU countries such as Ireland, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Antitrust officials will decide whether preferential tax arrangements made with governments is illegal state aid.
State-owned gas giant Gazprom has been accused of acting as an extension of Russia’s political influence. Russia’s gas export monopoly Gazprom sells its gas to EU clients under secretive bilateral deals. By increasing prices or threatening to turn off the taps, it has played a high-profile role in the Ukraine crisis.
Both the EU and US imposed sanctions on Gazprom in September, after stopping short of doing so in July. Rosneft, the state-owned oil company was also hit by western sanctions.
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