"Taming the Corporations” (ISBN 1-902384-09-1) written by Austin Mitchell MP and Professor Prem Sikka (
University of Essex) provides evidence of systematic abuses of corporate power in virtually every sector of the economy.

Unchecked corporate power is harming people and  is bad for democracy. Evidence of corporate power is not hard to find. 51 of the World’s biggest economies are corporations and 60% of the world’s trade consists of internal transfers between 200 companies giving them enormous scope for tax avoidance, flight of capital, job shedding and holding elected governments to ransom. Companies control almost everything ranging from food, health, water, medicines, news, entertainment, savings and pensions and exercise more power on our daily lives than any elected government.

Companies have abused their power, as evidenced by mis-selling of pensions, endowment mortgage and various financial scandals. By putting profits before people, companies have inflicted Thalidomide, BSE, vCJD and smoking related diseases on millions of people. Electricity, water, gas, telephone, oil, railways, banks, supermarkets and credit card companies have little hesitation in abusing customers, shareholders and creditors. Department stores, drug companies, auction houses and accountancy firms have operated cartels to fleece customers. Due to lavish fat-cattery at the top and low wages at the bottom, income inequalities have deepened leading to social exclusion and poverty for millions of people. Tax avoidance by major companies is rife and
Britain is losing more than £100 billion in tax revenues each year.

Episodes such as Barings, BCCI, Maxwell, Enron, WorldCom, Parmalat, Transtec,
Versailles, Polly Peck, Equitable Life, Wickes, Wiggins, Resort Hotels, Slug and Lettuce, Mayflower, RGB Resources, Shell, Hollinger, Aberdeen Trust and Guinness have not led to any major reforms. Regulators are weak and auditors are ineffective. Corporate governance codes have failed and do not give stakeholders any enforceable rights. Successive governments have been bought-off and company executives continue to pursue their narrow personal interests. The result is an increasing catalogue of abuses and scandals

The monograph contains over 100 proposals for reforms to empower stakeholders and bring corporations under democratic control. These include replacing the unitary board with two tier boards, stakeholder elections of all directors, end to the proxy voting system, limits on the number of jobs that executive and non-executive directors can hold and personal responsibilities for the CEOs. Major companies need to be regulated by a regulator concerned with protecting stakeholders, accompanied by independent regulation of auditors and inquiries into current modes of accounting and auditing. It calls for maximum wage for company executives, stakeholder votes on executive remuneration, corporate manslaughter laws and urges that major corporations safeguard human rights and not be able to hide behind current libel laws or confidentiality clauses. The monograph contains proposals for dealing with organised tax avoidance and curbs on tax haven and the tax avoidance industry dominated by accountants, lawyers and bankers. It calls for additional disclosures to enable stakeholders to assess corporate conduct. It calls for changes to the democratic institutions so that they are more responsive to the concerns of citizens.

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