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The first NTO webinar of the „Tax and Crime” series took place on 14th October 2020, hosted digitally by IOTA. Since the beginning of the pandemic, this was the first technical event of the Network of Tax Organisations (NTO) held in the cyberspace, where over 180 participants from more than 80 different tax administrations worldwide joined the live broadcast to learn about the impact of Illicit Financial Flows on tax administration activities, strategies and preventive measures against tax evasion and financial crimes.

The 1st NTO (Network of Tax Organizations[1]) Technical Conference is going to take place in October 2021 in Rome, with Tax and Crime as its core topic. In order to promote discussion on this matter and provide a space for sharing experiences, NTO members decided to create a series of online webinars leading up to the conference. The first event of these series has successfully taken place on 14th October 2020.

In his opening remarks,  Marcio Verdi, the Head of NTO Council, underlined the importance of NTO role in fostering a global dialogue and providing support to the members of partner tax organizations in finding the efficient tools to fight tax crimes. He said: „Real fight against the illicit activities lies in identifying the lacking information rather than using the resources that already exist. Selecting taxpayers for audit is not the fight against tax and crime; there is a need to identify the data that is hidden. International collaboration and exchange of information are also crucial in the process.”

The webinar began with a presentation by Stefano Gesuelli, Head of the Italian Mission at CIAT and CIAT Director for Planning and Institutional Development. He gave an introduction to the Tax & crime theme drawing attention to the increasing linkages between the global economy and crime, such as illicit trade of legal products or the use of established banking, trade and communications networks to move illicit goods.

Next, Dr. Tera Saidimu Leseeto, Commissioner for Intelligence and Strategic Operations at the Kenyan Revenue Authority, gave a presentation on Identifying and addressing various and new forms of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs). Dr. Saidimu shared about their administration’s strategies to identify IFFs, the role of informers, data analytics and joint investigations to flag tax evasion. Dr. Saidimu also discussed some of the enablers of IFFs, their impact on tax authorities and presented a case study on a trader scheme. Kenyan response strategies such as mechanisms for global information exchange, domestic collaboration of law enforcement agencies and the implementation of a whistle-blower channel were perceived with big interest and appreciation from the audience.

Lastly, Ms. Tarja Valsi, Head of Compliance Control of the Finnish Tax Administration, presented some of the national measures implemented in Finland to combat economic crime. She talked about the Finnish strategy and action plan, which aims at tackling the grey economy and other economic crime. Ms. Valsi explained that a part of this plan, for example, was an obligation that will be imposed on foreign companies with a fixed place/permanent establishment of business in Finland to keep accounting by Finnish laws, in order to fight IFFs. Tarja Valsi provided a concrete example of the “Case Archipelago/Real Estate”, which illustrated the strategies adopted to identify and respond to unusual financing and money flows and conduct the tax audit in practice.

After the presentations, the webinar participants had the chance to ask questions from the presenters, who answered in the form of a panel discussion. This part of the event was moderated by the NTO Secretariat.

The IOTA Secretariat is glad that they could contribute to successfully hosting the first Webinar of the event series.

The next NTO webinar on Tax and Crime is expected to take place in February 2021, focusing on inter-agency collaboration, combatting tax crimes and exchange of information.

The presentations and the recorded NTO webinar are available to IOTA members (registered users of IOTA website) through the dedicated webpage of the event << under this link >>


[1] Network of Tax Organisations (NTO) consists of nine regional and international organisations of revenue administrations (African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), Association of Tax Authorities of Islamic Countries (ATAIC), Commonwealth Association of Tax Administrators (CATA), Inter-American Centre of Tax Administrations (CIAT), Caribbean Organisation of Tax Administrators (COTA), Centre for Exchange and Studies of Tax Administration Leaders (CREDAF), Intra-European Organisation of Tax Administrations (IOTA), Pacific Islands Tax Administrators Association (PITAA), West African Tax Administration Forum (WATAF) and the International Tax Compact (ITC)