Taxing Tax Havens

How to Respond to the Panama Papers

April 4, 2016. Kacper Pempel / Reuters

The Panama Papers, a cache of 11.5 million leaked documents belonging to the law firm Mossack Fonseca in Panama, has implicated dozens of world leaders and celebrities in offshore banking and tax evasion. And yet these revelations are small when compared to the actual size of global financial crime. Panama, after all, is only one of more than 90 financial secrecy jurisdictions around the world today, compared with just a dozen or so in the early 1970s. Together, as of 2015, they hold at least $24 trillion to $36 trillion in anonymous private financial wealth, most of which belong to the top 0.1 percent of the planet’s wealthiest.

These “treasure islands” are not limited to sultry tropical paradises such as the Bahamas, Anguilla, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, BVI, the Cayman Islands, Panama, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, and St. Vincent. They also include much older traditional European havens, including Andorra, the Channel Islands, Cyprus, Gibraltar, the

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