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This is an audio transcript of the FT News Briefing podcast episode: Panama, Paradise, Pandora. What’s changed in the world of tax avoidance?

Marc Filippino
Good morning from the Financial Times. Today is Thursday, October 7th, and this is your FT News Briefing.

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Gas prices were on a roller coaster yesterday and political leaders weighed in on the energy crisis. General Motors is banking on batteries and announced plans to double revenues by the end of the decade. Plus, the Pandora papers are the latest leak of documents showing how the world’s wealthy hide their money. We’ll ask what impact there’s been since the first trove of papers came out.

Emma Agyemang
The understanding of tax avoidance has really shifted over the past decade. So that now most people feel it’s the wrong thing to do. It’s a bad thing to do. Whereas in previous times, you know, it was seen as something that was legal and say, Why shouldn’t I do it?

Marc Filippino
I’m Marc Filippino and here’s the news you need to start your day.

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It was the most volatile and unpredictable day that many in the industry will ever witness. That’s how one industry analyst described trading in the gas market yesterday. At one point, UK and European natural gas prices shot up and were trading at close to 10 times what they were at the beginning of the year. Prices then fell after Russia’s President Vladimir Putin hinted that the country’s gas exporter, Gazprom, may increase supplies to help Europe avoid a full blown crisis. Meanwhile, in the US, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm floated the idea of releasing crude oil from the government’s strategic petroleum reserve to ease the surge in the price of gasoline in the US. The EU’s energy commissioner was blunt about the limits of what the bloc could do. Kadri Simson admitted Brussels was powerless to prevent surging gas prices that are affecting consumers across Europe. She told the FT that Brussels couldn’t provide short-term fixes, but would encourage governments to offer targeted support, like cutting energy taxes.

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General Motors CEO Mary Barra announced ambitious plans yesterday to double its revenues by 2030 while increasing profit margins, all while shifting from gas to electric-powered vehicles. GM plans to use common parts and its own battery to produce a range of electric vehicles. It will also try to boost profits by selling subscriptions for services like car insurance and its own hands-free driving technology.

Claire Bushey
So they’re thinking they’re going to do high volume in EV by having up to 30 vehicles by 2025 that appeal to all segments of the heart of the auto market in the United States.

Marc Filippino
That’s the FT’s Claire Bushey. She covers the auto industry.

Claire Bushey
It’s a key moment because GM had a black eye with the Chevrolet Bolts because they were catching on fire. When you have to tell your customers that they probably shouldn’t park in their garage because it might burn their house down, that’s problematic, to say the least. So GM really needed to explain to people what they were doing and how it was going to work.

Marc Filippino
That’s the FT’s Claire Bushey. [MUSIC PLAYING] We’ve had the Panama Papers and the Paradise Papers, and this past Sunday, another massive leak of documents detailing the offshore financial dealings of the world’s wealthy. It’s the Pandora Papers, a staggering 12 million documents with more revelations about tax evasion and hidden financial dealings. To talk about what impact these leaks are having, I’m joined by the FT’s global tax correspondent Emma Agyemang. Thanks for coming on the show, Emma.

Emma Agyemang
Thanks for having me.

Marc Filippino
So, Emma, the way I understand it is the Pandora Papers actually differ from the Panama and Paradise Papers. Why is that the case?

Emma Agyemang
Yeah, it’s it’s a really good question. Probably what is different is that so far for the Pandora Papers, we haven’t seen allegations of tax evasion. There might be some indication of potentially other wrongdoing or potentially even, you know, corruption, money laundering. But it’s interesting to note that compared to both the Panama Papers, which focused very much on tax evasion, which is a crime, it’s fraud, and the Paradise Papers are focused on aggressive avoidance, tax avoidance. These papers so far have been showing the ways in which people using offshore arrangements have been using them kind of to protect their own privacy and to in some cases hide what’s going on from potentially the public. In terms of why, one factor, I think, is that there has been more focus by governments and by tax authorities to try and close the net on people behaving secretly. But also, there’s a deterrence effect of these leaks. So when the Panama Papers came out, if you were somebody who was named and then it was hugely costly, embarrassing, lots of negative press as a result from it. So I think a lot of companies and individuals have felt that this isn’t something they really want to be attached to.

Marc Filippino
So what have we seen at an international level to fix the things these papers have shed a light on?

Emma Agyemang
I mean, you know, lots of different efforts, both at national level and international level. Say, I mean, nationally, different countries have done different things to try and tighten up on the ways in which people are using these offshore assets. For example, there’s been an increase in the use of registers to get some more information about people who are behind some of these offshore arrangements, but that varies country by country. Internationally, there’s been quite a bit of effort to share information between tax authorities. Basically, it’s called common reporting standard. If somebody say a British citizen is doing something in Singapore, that’s something that’s going to be shared between the two tax authorities. So there has been a big increase in trying to make sure that there’s less secrecy, there’s more transparency. Of course, there’s also the focus on trying to get corporates and in particular digital companies and some of the biggest companies in the world to pay more tax where they do business and to make sure that there was a global minimum in terms of a corporate tax rate.

Marc Filippino
Right. And actually, the OECD is going to hold talks on the global tax rate this week. Another thing that came out of these Pandora Papers is that some US states like South Dakota and President Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware have become leaders in peddling financial secrecy. What does this mean for the White House, especially since Biden has said he wants to be a leader in clamping down on tax havens?

Emma Agyemang
Yeah, I think that’s a great question. I think that it’s not necessarily going to be that easy for Joe Biden at the federal level to change this because the states have their own decision-making abilities about how they run their affairs to some degree. But what these Pandora papers have really done is shine the spotlight on these states, such as South Dakota, Nevada, Delaware, how much money is actually going into them and also from the people outside the US. So I don’t think it’s a problem, an issue that can be kind of swept under the carpet anymore, and it will be interesting to see where it goes.

Marc Filippino
Emma Agyemang is the FT’s global tax correspondent.

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Before we go, the folks behind Panera Bread, Pret a Manger and Krispy Kreme want to appeal to your four-legged friends, or rather humans’ love for their four-legged friends and maybe even their two-winged friends. European investment group JAB Holding plans to raise a $5 billion fund to extend its dealmaking in the pet sector. The group has been raising funds from its existing network of roughly 120 investors, according to two FT sources. JAB already has big investments in veterinary care. Now it wants to move into other pet services like insurance and medical equipment.

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You can read more on all of these stories at FT.com This has been your daily FT News Briefing. Make sure you check back tomorrow for the latest business news.

This transcript has been automatically generated. If by any chance there is an error please send the details for a correction to: typo@ft.com. We will do our best to make the amendment as soon as possible.

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