Exposed: the $43million tax dodge

Chisomo Manthalu's picture
Chisomo Manthalu Governance, ActionAid Malawi

Malawi is the poorest country in the world. Life expectancy here is 55 and on average there are just three nurses for every 10,000 people in the country. Our government urgently needs more money to pay for public services to change the lives of people living in poverty.

Fagness, 33, and 3 of her children.
Photo: ActionAid Malawi. Fagness, 33, has 7 children and works as a farmer in Malawi. She and her family lack access to many services that could be paid for if big companies paid their fair share of tax.
Photo: ActionAid Malawi

The extent of tax dodging in Malawi

A new investigation we have released today, An Extractive Affair, has found that our government has lost out on more than US$43 million in tax to just one company over the last six years.

The Australian mining multinational Paladin started operating in the country six years ago to mine uranium for sale in North America. However through using complex corporate structures to exploit loopholes in international tax rules and through negotiating a huge tax break from the Malawian government, the company managed to cut millions off its tax contributions.

To put that sum in context, in one year that US$43 million could have paid for one of the following:

In a country where an estimated 910,000 people are living with HIV, mostly women, this lost revenue could have had a huge impact on these people’s lives. More than half of this loss was down to the company’s use of international tax rules. And it was able to do this, in short, because the international tax system let them.

Changing the system

It’s no surprise that Malawi lost out to the international tax system – our government never got a say in shaping global tax rules. Instead the system has been created by the richest and most powerful countries, and as a result it represents their interests and the interests of the multinational companies that are headquartered there.

But the international tax system doesn’t have to be this way. In July, the world’s governments are meeting to agree on how to finance the fight against poverty and developing countries are pushing hard for them to be given a say in writing global tax rules. This summit is a rare and crucial opportunity to reshape the international tax system. 

Join the campaign!

To make this happen we need to put pressure on our governments to show that we want every country to be part of shaping the international tax system, and that we want a system that isn’t rigged against the poorest countries in the world. For more information please read our FAQs.

We’re working with campaigners around the world to push governments to act, and we need you to join us.





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This webpage has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of ActionAid UK and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union

It's time to speak up about climate change

Jon Date's picture
Jon Date Advocacy Officer

Climate change is already causing huge hardship for people around the world, including children like Mukta from Bangladesh. That’s why we’re joining the UK’s biggest ever meeting with MPs on climate change this Wednesday, to demand action.

Mukta and her mother planting rice in Bangladesh - one of the countries worst affected by climate change.
Mukta and her mother planting rice in Bangladesh - one of the countries worst affected by climate change.
Photo: Nicolas Axelrod/ActionAid

Climate change in Bangladesh

Sadly it’s the poorest people in the world that are being hit first and hardest by the effects of climate change. Mukta, 9, and her mother live in Sunamganj district in Bangladesh – the country that is most vulnerable, according to experts.

Where they live, flash flooding used to take place every four to six years, but large-scale deforestation and climate change means it’s happening much more often – eight times over the last 10 years.

These flash floods often wipe out crops, meaning widespread hunger which stops children like Mukta being able to go to school.

She told us: “I feel afraid. When the floods come, our houses fall – everything collapses. Strong floods suddenly rush down the mountains and that’s why when the water enters our homes, we run to the college building to take shelter.”

We need action

Thanks to money from child sponsorship, we’ve been working with Mukta’s community to cope with the floods, by helping them build embankments to defend against the floodwaters for example.

But helping communities to be more resilient is not enough – we need to tackle the root problem. We need action from governments to stop climate change so that more families don’t have their jobs or homes destroyed by flooding or other natural disasters.

Not only that, we need governments from rich countries (which have been responsible for carbon emissions which have led to climate change) to provide finance to help poorer countries adapt to the changing environment and to compensate the people and communities that have been affected.

That’s why we’ve joined The For The Love Of... campaign and are part of the UK’s biggest ever meeting with MPs on climate change this Wednesday (17th June).

What you can do

We’re coming together to show our love for all the things we could lose because of climate change – and to ask our MPs to:

  • Make it clean! We need to be getting all our energy from clean sources.
  • Make it fair! Support developing countries hardest hit by climate change.
  • Make it work! For the sake of people and the environment – locally, nationally and globally.

So, for the love of Bangladesh and all the things that could be lost to climate change, join the Climate Coalition campaign now.



Photo: Nicolas Axelrod/ActionAid


Fighting for freedom in Egypt: how you can help

Oriana Lauria's picture
Oriana Lauria Campaigns team

Women's rights defender Azza Soliman is back in court. Her crime? Witnessing a murder.  

She says, "I know I am at risk now. I do not feel safe. I have been advised to leave my country. Maybe tomorrow I will have to but today I can't stay silent."

Azza Soliman, a women's rights lawyer, is on trial for witnessing a murder in Egypt
Azza Soliman, a women's rights lawyer, is on trial for witnessing a murder in Egypt
Photo: ActionAid

As a high profile defender of women’s rights in the turbulent politics of post-revolution Egypt, Azza Soliman knew the risks she was taking.

But she had no idea the lengths the government would go to silence her.

After witnessing the killing of Shaimaa al-Sabbagh during a peaceful protest marking the fourth anniversary of the Arab Spring, Azza made a statement to police and promptly got charged under the repressive new protest law. It was the state’s chance to be rid of a well-argued and, scandalously, female critic.

Now Azza is taking on the might of the Egyptian state.

After a global outcry, which included more than 20,000 ActionAid supporters petitioning the UK Foreign Secretary, the judge threw the case out of court.

But victory was short-lived. The prosecutor appealed and Azza, along with 16 co-defendants, is back in front of a judge on Saturday 13 June.

The fight continues for Azza

Azza says, “This is about more than my own situation. This is about my need to protect the youth of my country. I need to send a political message to those in power. A lot of people have lost hope here in Egypt. We have to uphold the rule of law.

“The government, the regime is back. The revolution is gone. The government is trying to scare us.”

We support women around the world who are bravely speaking out against violence against women, including women’s rights activists like Azza.

Call for the charges to be dropped 

That’s why ActionAid UK is asking supporters to join with others across Europe to call on the EU human rights chief to do all he can to get the Egyptian government to drop the charges against Azza and the other defendants.

Azza says, “I have not lost hope. I am fighting for my rights and I fear for my life. But I am trying. If we stop trying we have nothing.

"If we do not take action it could be our sons, our daughters who are killed next. People in the UK can send a strong message.”

There's only four days left to get the charges dropped, so we need as many signatures as possible. 

Our award winning tax campaign!

Murray Worthy's picture
Murray Worthy Tax Justice Campaign Manager

I’m thrilled to share that our tax campaign won the BOND Inspiring Campaign Award. BOND is the umbrella body for all international development organisations, so this is a great honour, and we were up against stiff competition. Watch our nomination video to find out what our tax campaign is all about. 

It's down to you

This award is a huge recognition of the time, commitment and passion all of you have put into driving this campaign forwards, continuing to push tax up the political agenda, and achieving real changes for the lives of people living in poverty. Without you, none of this would have been possible.

Campaigning works

When we received the award, our Director of Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns Nuria Molina-Gallart said: “It's great that this campaign has been recognised, because it goes to the heart of social and economic injustice. Millions of people around the world are going without essential services, because of outrageous behaviour. Campaigning on the root causes of poverty is one of the most difficult types of campaigning, but it is also the most effective way to ensure citizens of the world have their rights.”

Murray and Nuria at the Bond Awards

Meeting Jon Snow

As well as receiving the award, we also got the chance to meet Jon Snow, the Channel 4 News Presenter, who told us he’s long been a supporter of our campaign to tackle corporate tax dodging.

The Team with Jon Snow

There's more work to be done

Our campaigning continues, and we need your support as much as ever. We need to make sure the government don’t forget their pre-election commitments to tackle tax dodging, so please take action now.



LIVE: General Election updates

Jon Date's picture
Jon Date Advocacy Officer

We’ll be bringing you updates and gossip on the general election and post-election negotiations - and looking at what it means for our Tax Dodging Bill campaign and for people living in poverty (most recent information displays on the top).

Politicians let money slip though their fingers by not adopting a Tax Dodging Bill
Politicians let money slip though their fingers by not adopting a Tax Dodging Bill
Photo: ActionAid

Wed 13 May 17.31: David Cameron's new all-Conservative Cabinet met for the first time yesterday, meaning the election period is well and truly over and the new Government is in place.

On Wednesday 27th May the Queen will give a speech to mark the opening of Parliament and set out the new laws that the Government have told her that they plan to introduce. We will be keeping up the pressure on David Cameron to pass a Tax Dodging Bill, which we want to be included in the Queen's Speech.

E-mail David Cameron to tell him you want him to introduce a Tax Dodging Bill:



Mon 11 May 14.49: Congratulations to Justine Greening for being re-appointed as Secretary of State for International Development.


Mon 11 May 12.01: We're keeping up the pressure on the newly re-elected Prime Minister to introduce a Tax Dodging Bill through a special delivery to Downing Street:


Mon 11 May 11.17: With the Conservatives gaining seats in England and Wales and the SNP winning over most of Scotland, would it be fair to say our new electoral map resembles a certain cartoon character?


Sat 9 May 10.36: Here are more campaign supporters in Westminster today with a wheelbarrow full of (chocolate!) gold coins to represent all the money a Tax Dodging Bill could raise in the UK and in developing countries.

Before the election David Cameron said that if he was re-elected as Prime Minister, his Government would raise £5 billion a year from tackling tax avoidance and evasion. We want him to stick to his­­­ promise and introduce a Tax Dodging Bill.

Campaigners in Westminster calling on David Cameron to introduce a Tax Dodging Bill

Fri 8 May 15.42: Use the tool below to e-mail David Cameron and tell him you want him to introduce a Tax Dodging Bill in the first 100 days of his new Government.

We're calling for a law that will:

  • Make it harder for big companies to dodge UK taxes and ensure they’re not getting unfair tax breaks
  • Ensure UK tax rules don’t encourage big companies to avoid tax in developing countries
  • Make the UK tax regime more transparent and tougher on tax dodging.

We are also calling for David Cameron to commit to using the funds raised in the UK to tackle poverty here.

65,000 people have taken action. Join us!

Fri 8 May 14.19: Tax Dodging Bill supporters are outside 10 Downing Street calling on David Cameron and his new Government to #MakeTaxFair


Fri 8 May 13.55: Speaking about the election result, Jenny Ricks, Chair of the Tax Dodging Bill campaign said:

“In the Conservatives' manifesto they pledged to raise £5 billion from tackling tax avoidance and evasion, but didn't set out what they would do to achieve this. To meet their target the newly elected government must make passing a Tax Dodging Bill a priority for their first hundred days. This would raise billions of pounds that could be used to fight poverty in the UK and in the world’s poorer countries.”

Fri 8 May 08.54: Most seats have now been counted, and it's not the result many people were expecting. The BBC are forecasting that David Cameron will be able to form a majority Conservative Government:


Thurs 7 May 17.05: So, #DogsAtPollingStations is trending on Twitter.

I think this one is my favourite:


Thurs 7 May 13.00: Mike Noyes, our Head of Humanitarian, spots TV crews outside of Parliament.

Keep your eyes peeled over the next few days - we will be outside where any post-election negotiations are taking place, trying to ensure our Tax Dodging Bill campaign gets noticed by politicians and the media.


Thurs 7 May 11.30: And they’re off! Polling stations opened at 7am this morning, and it still looks far too close to call.

Expert predictions

Here is polling company YouGov’s final prediction for how many seats each party will win. If they are right then we can expect complicated negotiations and could even need three parties to come together to get a majority in the House of Commons.


But of course, pollsters can be wrong. We will have to wait until the early hours of tomorrow morning to get a better idea of the actual results. And in the meantime – get to your local polling station and vote (if you haven’t already) to ensure your views are counted!

Wed 6 May 17.50: Tomorrow’s election will be incredibly close. Most bookies think Cameron and Miliband have an equal chance of ending up as Prime Minister.

But it’s not just Labour and the Conservatives that will matter. It looks like neither of the two big parties will be able to pull off a majority, so from Friday onwards we can expect complex negotiations with the smaller parties as the two leaders try to scrabble together enough MPs to be able to govern.

Poverty is political

We’ve been talking to parties of all colours as they were writing their manifestos, and thousands of you have contacted the Parliamentary Candidates in your area to ask them to support a Tax Dodging Bill, which would raise money in the UK and developing countries that is needed to fight poverty.

Have you read the party manifestos?

So, with the election tomorrow, what have parties pledged to do that would make tax fair, improve women’s rights and combat poverty around the world?

In alphabetical order:

The Conservatives have promised to continue to lead efforts to tackle violence against women and girls at home and abroad.

They haven't supported the Tax Dodging Bill campaign, but have shown a willingness to look at publishing company accounts country by country, which is important for developing countries.

The Greens support the Tax Dodging Bill in full, and would increase our spending on international aid from 0.7% to 1% of national income.

Labour have pledged that their first Budget would combat tax dodging, including many of the measures from the Tax Dodging Bill campaign. They would continue to promote women’s rights and join with those campaigning to attain gender equality.

The Liberal Democrats haven’t invoked the Tax Dodging Bill campaign directly, but a few chunks from our policy document made it into their manifesto, and we’re not complaining.

The Lib Dems would introduce an International Gender Equality Strategy.

Plaid Cymru support the Tax Dodging Bill campaign.

The SNP have supported the principles of the Tax Dodging Bill, including publishing company accounts and reviewing tax breaks for big companies.

UKIP would repeal legislation requiring we spend 0.7% of national income on aid, and instead cut it to 0.2%.

They would also set up a Treasury Commission to prevent large multinational corporations using aggressive tax avoidance schemes.

So that’s where the political parties stand at the moment. Check back tomorrow and over the coming days for updates to see how the parties fare, what happens in the negotiations and which of these policies could get put into practice.

Have you signed our petition calling on the new government to create a Tax Dodging Bill yet?




Photo credit: ActionAid.

5 reasons to apply to be a Local Organiser

Natasha Adams's picture
Natasha Adams Tax Campaign Manager

Global poverty and injustice can feel pretty overwhelming. If you'd like to make the world a better place but you don't know where to start - we've got just the opportunity for you.

We're recruiting volunteer Local Organisers to campaign in communities across the UK. June 8th is the application deadline. Here are five reasons why you should think about applying...

Local organisers and community campaigners
Local organisers and community campaigners at a London training event
Photo: Steve Forrest/ActionAid

1) You'll be in excellent company 

Last year we recruited 10 local organisers, from Leeds to London, from a journalist to an environmental engineer. They're an incredible, inspiring bunch and if you come on board you'll have the privilege of getting to know them too, as well as our ActionAid team - who are also pretty great (not that I'm biased).

2) The roles come with fantastic opportunities

Over the last year our Local Organisers have blogged for us, written emails to 50,000+ ActionAid supporters, met MPs at various party conferences, hosted local events, got stories covered in local press and much, much more.

ActionAid 'Towns Against Tax Dodging' training, London, UK

Here's what James Taylor has to say about the role: "I’ve been a Local Organiser since August last year. The experience so far has been fantastic! A highlight was when I met Danny Alexander at the Liberal Democrat conference and got to grill him with specific questions about the campaign for a Tax Dodging Bill." 

3) Your actions will make a difference

Last year over 100 people came to local events, many run by Local Organisers, to find out more about tax dodging and how to support our tax campaign. Most recently the campaign for a Tax Dodging Bill has got results in party manifestos across the board. Our Local Organisers played an important role in this success through their hard work meeting and questioning Parliamentary candidates

4) You'll get an inside view of our campaigns

Local Organisers are the first to know what we're up to, and will be playing a big role in our new campaign tackling violence against women and girls launching in June. You'd get the opportunity to shape and improve our activism and can take things in the direction that best fits your skills and passion.

5) We offer loads of support and training

We'll kick off with a weekend of training on July 18th and 19th, followed by two to three training sessions a year, and we'll cover your food, transport and accommodation costs. 

Tax Dodging Bill training

Training sessions are a great time to get to know each other, learn about ActionAid's campaigns and plan next steps. But the support doesn't stop there - I'm always on hand to answer emails or talk on the phone and support our organisers whatever they're doing.

So there you are. We hope we've convinced you!



Photo credit: Steve Forrest & Jonathan Waring