Christian Aid has condemned the 'rotten' and 'corrupt' system of off-shore tax havens in the wake of the 'Paradise Papers' revelations and called for an end to financial secrecy, declaring 'enough is enough'.
The aid and development charity has been campaigning for 10 years to end the financial secrecy that facilitates tax avoidance, tax evasion and corruption on the grounds that poor people in poor countries are most vulnerable to the impact of these practices.
It said that new revelations about the activities of the global giant Glencore in the Democratic Republic of the Congo demonstrate how the secrecy provided offshore can have a devastating impact in one of the poorest countries in the world, preventing development and consigning a population to a life of poverty.
The Paradise Papers' latest revelations, which have drawn in the British royal family as well as US President Donald Trump along with a string of celebrities, come some 18 months after the similarly revelatory Panama Papers.
The head of economic development at Christian Aid, Toby Quantrill, said: 'These revelations are yet further evidence of the extent and nature of the global offshore system. A rotten system that enables a few of the richest amongst us to dodge their financial responsibilities, but is unavailable to the vast majority of us. A corrupt system that has been deliberately created by the most powerful, at the expense of the powerless, from all countries in the world. A system which undermines democracy and markets alike. And which reinforces the cycle of inequality, perpetuating the entrenchment of power at the top.
'This, surely, has to signal the end of financial secrecy. This is not the first leak of this nature and it won't be the last. It is clear that transparency is now inevitable. Whether by design or by leakage, nobody can expect to keep the details of their tax affairs secret any more. The message has to be that 'if you are not comfortable with it being public, then don't do it'.
Christian Aid added: 'Government ministers like [Prime Minister] Theresa May and [Foreign Secretary] Boris Johnson have the power to make it much harder to dodge taxes by increasing transparency but seem complacent about the scale of the problems they are facilitating. They have failed to match words with concrete and effective measures, and now seem to have given up on getting transparency in their own backyard. This damages the UK's reputation around the world. The UK is responsible for its crown dependencies and overseas territories, and must act to end their secrecy.'
The charity provided a specific example, saying that the UK Government should legislate to require UK companies to report publicly their key financial indicators such as taxes paid in every country where they work. 'The UK should also work to persuade other countries to do the same. But given that we've been waiting over a year for any decisive action on this, the time has come for change,' Christian Aid said.