Expert cited by David Cameron says companies would be less likely to allow abuse if there were safeguards for dissenters
Companies could be forced to offer protection to whistleblowers who uncover evidence of corporate tax dodging under new proposals being considered by Britain as part of its 2013 presidency of the G8 countries.
Paul Collier, the Oxford University development expert cited by the prime minister in his Davos speech, said that allowing whistleblowers to speak out safely – perhaps by identifying a board member as responsible for hearing them – was a key part of the agenda. “In any big company there are likely to be whistleblowers, so as long as it’s clear that abuse isn’t acceptable, then companies will be much more wary of abuses,” he said.
Collier, whose book The Bottom Billion spelled out the practical challenges that can trap poor countries in poverty and aid dependence, has been meeting Cabinet Office officials to help draw up Britain’s G8 agenda. He said tackling corporate tax dodging was something the wealthy nations could do to help the rest of the world, rather than lecturing them about the shortcomings of their own “governance”.
Starbucks, Amazon and Google have been among the multinationals that have provoked public fury after it emerged that they pay little or no corporation tax in the UK.
The prime minister drew on the Starbucks case in his speech, saying that it was time for companies to “wake up and smell the coffee”.