Panama Papers: the tip of the iceberg?

large notaxhavensToday we have been confronted with the staggering hypocrisy of a Tory Prime Minister who talks tough on tax havens, and then reveals that he has personally profited from money held in a tax haven…

I think most of us are now very familiar with the ‘Panama Papers’. These documents, leaked from a single law firm in Panama, have revealed the staggering amounts of money hidden in tax havens. This includes not just aggressive tax avoidance by well-known figures, but alleged money laundering.

The vast majority of Britons would have no idea how to set up a secret offshore account in a tax haven, but we’ve seen our public services cut while the richest among us have avoided paying their fair share. Meanwhile, the Tories are putting working families in impossibly difficult financial situations, and leaving disabled people wondering if or when their financial support will be withdrawn.

We already knew that Cameron had personally intervened to water down EU rules on tax havens, and today (after mounting pressure from the public and Labour) Cameron has finally admitted profiting from tax haven funds in the past. With new revelations every day, and some very obvious question dodging from number 10, I’m supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s call for a thorough investigation.

Labour in Westminster and Europe have supported numerous proposals for tackling tax havens, and although David Cameron has been talking tough, his party have been fighting against transparency proposals for years. It was the Tories who opposed a pan European register of companies and their owners, and it was the Tories who fought against EU proposals extending transparency to cover trusts – an easy loophole for the richest in the world to take advantage of.

I hope that the public will keep piling on the pressure, and make sure that the Tories can’t get away with blocking proposals to tackle tax avoidance again.

It’s obvious that tax cheats cross national borders, and that there are staggering amounts of money being withheld from the public purse, where it could be paying for new hospitals, fixing our roads or strengthening our security services.

Action at EU level would put huge pressure on tax havens, and if we remain members of the EU, Labour has the influence in Europe to achieve the reforms we desperately need.

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