Amnesty International has called on governments at all levels to take urgent steps to crack down on tax evasion and attendant corrupt actions by wealthy individuals, government officials and companies.
This call is coming barely 24 hours after Paradise Papers released details from a leak of 13.4 million files that expose the global environments in which tax abuses thrive. It also revealed complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth, a disclosure which will put pressure on world leaders, including U.S. President Donald Trump and the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, who have both pledged to curb aggressive tax avoidance schemes.
In Nigeria, PREMIUM TIMES, the only Nigerian media that is part of the investigations, in its first in the series, published how the Senate President Bukola Saraki maintained interest in an offshore company against Nigerian laws.
Amnesty International, which made this call in a statement signed by the Deputy Head of News and Media, Katy Pownall, said that tax evasion and avoidance deprive governments of much of the revenue they need to guarantee the economic and social rights that they are legally bound to deliver on. It added that these rights ”include goods and services that everybody should be able to enjoy to lead a dignified life, such as a decent place to live, essential healthcare and education, and adequate welfare support.”
Iain Byrne, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Advisor at Amnesty International was quoted as saying: “When people do not pay their fair share of tax, it’s the poor who suffer the most. At a time when governments around the world are slashing spending on health, education, housing and welfare support, it’s shameful that so many wealthy individuals and companies are being allowed to stow away billions of dollars in tax havens.
“Governments must do more to stop tax havens – and the accountants, lawyers and consultants who work in them – from aiding and abetting this grand-scale tax abuse. We’ve heard too many empty promises. The time has come for action. The appalling revelations in these papers, and the ensuing outcry, should prompt the international community to urgently look at finding global solutions to tax abuse, and at ways of holding those responsible to account. We owe it to the world’s most vulnerable people to make sure the richest individuals and most powerful corporations pay their way”, he said.
The Paradise Papers contain details of the offshore financial affairs of hundreds of politicians, celebrities, wealthy individuals and multi-national companies contained in a trove of 13.4 million leaked documents.
The documents were initially leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. The paper then contacted the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, ICIJ to oversee an investigation involving 96 media partners, including PREMIUM TIMES, the BBC, the Guardian and the New York Times.