Research and analysis

The Tax Justice Network has published the Financial Secrecy Index (FSI) 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 one central bank.


The 2015 report of the Economic Commission for Africa’s High Level Panel on Illicit Flows out of Africa, chaired by H.E. Thabo Mbeki, included the first major publication of a pioneering analysis of illicit financial flow (IFF) risk, which by combining FSI secrecy scores with bilateral data on trade, investment and banking stocks and flows, establishes the relative IFF vulnerability in each area.

The background paper for the 2014 Tana High Level Forum on Security in Africa, which took illicit financial flows as its theme, had earlier presented related analysis and offered specific regional policy recommendations.

In its 2014 Trade and Development Report, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has widely referred to the FSI (p. 172).

Center for Global Development's Commitment to Development Index uses the FSI as one component to assess the development-friendliness of 27 OECD-members.

The Basel Anti-money laundering index by the Basel Institute of Governance includes the FSI in its assessment of money laundering risk.

The 2013 edition of OECD’s Bribery and Corruption Awareness Handbook for Tax Examiners and Tax Auditors mentions a high score on the Financial Secrecy Index as an external environment indicator for a high risk country (see first note on page 25 of the OECD handbook).

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) as extensively referenced the FSI in its 2012 report "Promoting an appropriate policy on tax havens" (see pages 11, 16-19).

The French Parliament and Senate has referenced the Financial Secrecy Index various times, for instance the Assemblée Nationale (here) or the Senate in its report by the investigative commission on capital and tax flight (Rapport au nom de la commission d’enquête sur l’évasion des capitaux et des actifs hors de France et ses incidences fiscales, Président M. Philippe Dominati, Rapporteur M. Éric Bocquet, Sénateurs).

Two pioneering German sustainability rating agencies, imug and oekom research, have incorporated the FSI in their rating process on bank bonds (imug) and in their country ratings (oekom research).

The responsible investment network EIRIS has included the FSI in its Country Sustainability Ratings.

In their 2015 report "Towards a Responsible Taxation Policy for the European Investment Bank", civil society organisations recommend the EIB to include the FSI for their country tax assessments (see pages 10 and 20).

The groundbreaking Fair Tax Mark, which assesses if companies pay their fair share of tax, uses the FSI in their criteria for multinational companies headquartered in the UK.


Chapter in an edited volume that focuses on the problems with established tax haven listings and discusses the FSI as an alternative: 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.

The peer reviewed journal Economic Geography published a paper on the geography of financial secrecy, relying heavily on the FSI: Cobham, Alex/Janský, Petr/Meinzer, Markus 2015: The Financial Secrecy Index: Shedding New Light on the Geography of Secrecy, in: Economic Geography 91: 3, 281–303. An ungated version is available in the CGD working paper series, here.

The Italian Central Bank used the FSI for research into the determinants of financial to tax havens: Cassetta, Alessia/Pauselli, Claudio/Rizzica, Lucia/Tonello, Marco 2014: Financial Flows to Tax Havens: Determinants and Anomalies (Banca D'Italia - Quaderni dell’antiriciclaggio - No.1), Rome, in:; 20.10.2014.

Professor Frank Barry, who refers to the FSI in his lecture (see minute 8:30, here).

An academic paper by TJN's director John Christensen (2012: The Hidden Trillions: Secrecy, Corruption, and the Offshore Interface, in: Crime, Law and Social Change 57, 325-343).

A study prepared for Cayman Finance by Aaron Smallwood of U.Texas-Arlington in 2014, identifies four “major problems” with the FSI, to which we have responded here.