Impact and research

The Tax Justice Network has published the Financial Secrecy Index every two years since 2009. In addition to being widely covered in the international media, the index is increasingly cited in academic and policy research. It is used in a number of important broader indices, such as the Center for Global Development’s Commitment to Development Index and the Basel Anti-Money Laundering Index published by the International Centre for Asset Recovery. In addition, the index is used for risk analysis by a range of private consultancies and at least two central banks.



  • This journal article by Leo Ahrens, Lukas Hakelberg and Thomas Rixen investigates how specific secrecy schemes, namely golden visas and trusts, have been used to circumvent the multilateral agreement on the automatic exchange of information. To this end, the authors use different elements of the Financial Secrecy Index: First, they consider the tax risk variable which indicates whether a jurisdiction lacks a personal income tax or exempts foreign income or capital income from taxation. Second, they rely on Key Financial Secrecy Indicators 2 and 3 to determine whether a jurisdiction requires trusts, foundations and companies to register their beneficial owners with authorities, which is crucial to prevent the concealment of ownership of such vehicles.

    Ahrens, Leo; Hakelberg, Lukas; Rixen, Thomas 2020. A victim of regulatory arbitrage? Automatic exchange of information and the use of golden visas and corporate shells. In: Regulation & Governance.
  • In this journal article, Päivi Karhunen, Svetlana Ledyaeva and Keith D. Brouthers examine the role of so-called capital round-tripping where offshore financial centers are used not simply to “park” capital but to reinvest it under the disguise of foreign investments back into the home country. Focusing in Russian round-tripping, the authors use data from the financial secrecy index to construct a variable that measures the degree of institutional secrecy in each offshore financial center.

    Karhunen, Päivi/ Ledyaeva, Svetlana/ Bouthers, Keith D. (2021) Capital Round-Tripping: Determinants of Emerging Market Firm Investments into Offshore Financial Centers and Their Ethical Implications. In: Journal of Business Ethics.
  • In this study, Peter Gebrands, Brigitte Unger, and Joras Ferweda investigate how a projected long-term decrease in recent multilateral tax reforms such as country-by-country reporting or automatic exchange of information can be prevented by further regulations that strengthen compliance. In constructing a sample for their calculations, the authors use the Financial Secrecy Index as well as the Corporate Tax Haven index to determine the highest-ranked jurisdiction in both indicators, which allows them to treat this as a representative example for both tax and secrecy havens.

    Gerbrands, Peter/ Unger, Brigitte/ Ferwerda, Joras (2021) Bilateral reponsive regulation and international tax competition: An agent-based simulation. In: Regulation & Governance.
  • In this journal article, Alberto Aziani, Joras Ferwerda, and Michele Riccardi investigate whether ownership links between different countries are driven mainly by social and macroeconomic factors – such as trade or geographical or cultural proximity – or are also related to measures of financial secrecy, corruption and lack of compliance with anti-money laundering regulations. As part of the ultivariate analysis they conduct, they use the Financial Secrecy Scores from the Financial Secrecy Index 2018 to determine jurisdictions’ vulnerability to illicit financial practices.

    Aziani, Alberto/ Ferweda, Joras/ Riccardi, Michele (2021): Who are our owners? Exploring the ownership links of businesses to identify illicit financial flows. In: European Journal of Criminology.
  • In this working paper for the United Nations University UNU-WIDER, Petr Janský, Tereza Palanská and Miroslav Palanský estimate the reactivity of cross-border financial assets to changes in financial secrecy and how it differs for countries at various income levels, using a unique dataset that includes secrecy scores from the five editions of the Financial Secrecy Index published between 2011 and 2020. They find that investors react to changes in financial transparency by relocating their assets to offshore financial centres, which remain, or have recently become, more financially secretive than other countries.

    Janský, Petr/ Palanská, Tereza/ Palanský, Miroslav (2022): Hide-seek-hide? The effects of financial secrecy on cross-border financial assets. WIDER Working Paper 2022/9. Helsinki: UNU-WIDER.
  • journal article by Tax Justice Network’s Alex Cobham and Markus Meinzer, co-authored with Petr Janský, which introduces the Financial Secrecy Index and the concept of secrecy jurisdictions that can be placed on a spectrum of secrecy into the academic literature, was published by the journal Economic Geography.

    Cobham, Alex, Janský, Petr, and Meinzer, Markus (2015), The Financial Secrecy Index: Shedding New Light on the Geography of Secrecy, in: Economic Geography 91: 3, 281–303. doi:10.1111/ecge.12094. An ungated version is available in the CGD working paper series, here.
  • A journal article by Patrick Emmenegger reviewing three interrelated strands of literature on financial intransparency with a special emphasis given to one of its most prominent examples: Swiss-style banking secrecy. It uses the Financial Secrecy Index, particularly the application of the global scale weight, to explain the importance of and impact of Switzerland on overall, global financial intransparency.

    Emmenegger, Patrick (2014), The Politics of Financial Intransparency: The Case of Swiss Banking Secrecy. Swiss Polit Sci Rev, 20: 146–164. doi:10.1111/spsr.12092.
  • journal article by Lukas Hakelberg analysing the impact of the political power of FATCA agreements to create pressure for Luxembourg and Austria to also enter into automatic exchange of information negotiations within the EU. It uses the Financial Secrecy Index to compare the secrecy rank of 16 major offshore centres, whether or not they have signed a FATCA agreement, and if they have endorsed the OECD CRS as an indication of the impact of FATCA in pushing adoption of automatic exchange of information with the EU.

    Hakelberg, Lukas (2014), The power politics of international tax co-operation: Luxembourg, Austria and the automatic exchange of information, in: Journal of European Public Policy, 18 July 2014, p.1-20. doi: 0.1080/13501763.2014.941380.
  • This journal article by Petr Jansky argues that the qualitative indicators of the Financial Secrecy Index emerge as the best contribution to the newly renamed and updated finance component of the Commitment to Development Index (CDI). The CDI, published by the Center for Global Development, ranks rich countries on their policies which affect poor countries. This paper rationalizes the inclusion of indicators of policies affecting illicit financial flows in the CDI, namely the Financial Secrecy Index.

    Jansky, Petr (2015), Updating the Rich Countries’ Commitment to Development Index: How They Help Poorer Ones Through Curbing Illicit Financial Flows, in: Social Indicators Research, 2015 Oct, Vol.124(1), pp.43-65. doi: 10.1007/s11205-014-0779-3.
  • A working paper by Leonard Seabrooke and Duncan Wigan discusses the Financial Secrecy Index and its strategic use by Tax Justice Network extensively in connecting and leveraging different network domains in its policy entrepreneurship and advocacy to push the relevant policy actors to tackle tax havens.

    Seabrooke, Leonard, and Wigan, Duncan (2013) ‘Emergent Entrepreneurs in Transnational Advocacy Networks: Professional Mobilization in the Fight for Global Tax Justice’, GR:EEN Working Paper No. 41, Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation, University of Warwick.
  • This study by Muhammad Nurul Houqe, et al. that uses the Financial Secrecy Index as its measure for financial secrecy when analysing the impact of effect of mandatory IFRS adoption on earnings quality in countries which exhibit high financial secrecy. Their analysis finds that firms in a high-secrecy country tend to report higher abnormal accruals and earnings conservatism, which results in lower earnings quality.

    Houqe, Muhammad Nurul ; Monem, Reza M. ; Tareq, Mohammad ; van Zijl, Tony (2016), Secrecy and the impact of mandatory IFRS adoption on earnings quality in Europe, in: Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, December 2016, Vol.40, pp.476-490. doi:10.1016/j.pacfin.2016.08.002.
  • journal article by Lukas Hakelberg and Max Schaub in Regulation and Governance uses the Financial Secrecy Index in addressing the question of whether the holding out of the US from the international automatic exchange framework CRS has effectively redistributed financial activity in favour of the US, and at the expense of other secrecy jurisdictions.

    Hakelberg, Lukas/Schaub, Max (2017): The Redistributive Impact of Hypocrisy in International Taxation: Hypocrisy and Redistribution, in: Regulation & Governance. doi:10.1111/rego.12156.
  • This journal article by Markus Blut, et al. uses the Financial Secrecy Index as an indicator of a country’s regulatory environment with regards to financial secrecy. Their analysis on the quality of e-service in online retailing indicate that e-service quality has four underlying dimensions (website design, fulfilment, customer service, and security/privacy) though their relevance for overall e-service quality is moderated by country-specific (uncertainty avoidance, masculinity, power distance, individualism), regulatory environment-specific (financial secrecy, rule of law), and industry-specific (services/goods, retailing/banking) factors as well as research-design factors.

    Blut, Markus ; Chowdhry, Nivriti ; Mittal, Vikas ; Brock, Christian (2015), E-Service Quality: A Meta-Analytic Review, in: Journal of Retailing, December 2015, Vol.91(4), pp.679-700 doi:10.1016/j.jretai.2015.05.004.
  • Book Chapter on the historical track record of the (in)consistency and (lack of) impact of tax haven blacklists:

    Meinzer, Markus 2016: Towards a Common Yardstick to Identify Tax Havens and to Facilitate Reform, in: Rixen, Thomas/Dietsch, Peter (Hrsg.): Global Tax Governance – What is Wrong with it, and How to Fix it, Colchester, 255-288.
  • In this working paper that will be soon be published in the journal Regulation and Governance, Tax Justice Network’s Markus Meinzer and Miroslav Palanský together with Petr Janský develop a bilateral extension of the Financial Secrecy Index to show which secrecy jurisdictions supply most secrecy to which specific countries. They compare the results of the Bilateral Financial Secrecy Index with two recent international policy efforts: blacklisting of non-cooperative jurisdictions by the European Commission and automatic information exchange.

    Janský, P., Meinzer, M., Palanský, M. Forthcoming. Is Panama Really Your Tax Haven? Secrecy Jurisdictions and the Countries They Harm. Regulation and Governance. doi:10.1111/rego.12380.

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