Friday, 8 April 2016

Number 4

Remember. Mossack Fonseca, of the Panama Papers, is number four. The fourth largest firm in Panama in offshore tax dodging. Not the largest. 

So the 2.9 terabytes of data squirreled out of the firm and now feeding the news is just a small slice of the action. The Legal 500 lists six firms in Panama that they regard as experts in offshore tax dodging. No, they don't use that term, but it's what they mean.

We are losing between £3.1 billion and £34 bn in tax revenues because of evasion.

It is not the poor who are skipping their taxes. As the Panama Papers underline, it is of course the wealthy. When it is the wealthy who are meant to lead by example from Westminster, the system begins to stink.

The OECD says that 27 out of the 34 OECD countries do not require information on the beneficial ownership of companies. That's a cloak over political leaders and business people. Andy Wightman is doing the right thing in digging out these relationships and questioning them.

Time for Westminster to open up. We need to see the tax returns of anyone who is in power (Andy does this each year), to see who owns the shadowy companies that buy and sell property and companies, and to reclaim from the people behind them the money that they owe to our hospitals, our schools and our social services. A proper transfer from wealth, to reduce poverty.

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