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Reaction: Paradise Papers leak shows strong UK leadership is critical to help end tax dodging

Posted by Melanie Kramers Senior Press Officer

5th Nov 2017

The Paradise Papers leak reveals widespread tax dodging by multinationals and wealthy individuals, as well as a strong connection between the UK and Bermuda-based Appleby, the law firm at the heart of the scandal.

Bermuda topped Oxfam's ranking of the world's 15 worst corporate tax havens, published last year, which named two other UK-linked territories implicated in the leak: the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands. The Appleby data leak covers about 25,000 offshore companies. It's reported that the most popular jurisdictions for offshore incorporations were Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. The British Virgin Islands and crown dependency the Isle of Man were also popular with Appleby clients.

Commenting on the leak, Ana Caistor Arendar, Oxfam's Head of Inequality, said: "This is yet another stark reminder that, when it comes to tax, too many big companies and wealthy individuals play by different rules to the rest of us.

"There's an often overlooked but very real human cost to tax avoidance - it deprives poor countries of billions each year needed for life-saving healthcare and life-changing education. But this is a problem that affects rich and poor countries alike - until leaders clamp down on widespread avoidance we'll all continue to suffer. 

"UK-linked tax havens such as Bermuda are at the heart of this scandal, so strong British leadership is critical to help end tax secrecy and bring global tax dodgers to book. The Government should not hesitate to make big companies based in Britain report their tax payments in every country, and our overseas territories and crown dependencies reveal the real owners of companies."

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Notes to editors

Bermuda topped Oxfam's list of the world's 15 worst corporate tax havens, published last year, which also named three other UK-linked territories - the Cayman Islands, Jersey and the British Virgin Islands. 

On Monday Oxfam revealed that a third of the $100bn [approx. £78bn] tax that companies dodge in poor countries annually is enough to cover the bill for essential healthcare that could prevent the needless deaths of eight million mothers, babies and children - and launched a hard-hitting film illustrating the human cost of tax avoidance on the world's poorest - 'The Heist That No One is Talking About' - to build public support for reform. 

As movement towards an EU tax transparency deal has stalled, Oxfam is urging the Chancellor to use the Budget to commit to implementing comprehensive public country by country reporting for UK-based companies by the end of 2019. More than a year since the Government passed legislation to enable this, and nearly two years since the last Conservative government agreed the case had been made for the change, it is still no closer to being a reality.

Oxfam has been urging the UK Government to ensure that British overseas territories and crown dependencies, including Bermuda and the Isle of Man, don't act as tax havens that can undermine the ability of other countries, especially poorer ones, to collect their fair share of revenue. That means putting an end to harmful tax practices, closing loopholes and improving transparency to ensure greater accountability - starting by introducing public registers of company beneficial ownership that are open to scrutiny.

The Appleby data leaks records about 25,000 offshore companies. The Guardian reports that the most popular jurisdictions for offshore incorporations were Bermuda and the Cayman Islands. The British Virgin Islands, another UK overseas territory, and the Isle of Man, which is a British crown dependency, were also popular with Appleby clients.

Blog post written by Melanie Kramers

Senior Press Officer

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