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Short news and ideas

Is there really 21 trillion dollars deposited in offshore accounts?


In July 2012 Tax Justice Network (www.taxjustice.net), a portal advocating the fight against corruption and tax evasion, published a report on the amount of money deposited offshore in tax havens. The report (The Price of Offshore Revisited), written by James Henry, alleges that even modest estimations at the amount deposited in the various “secret tax havens” put the figure at around 21 trillion dollars. At the same time, a former chief economist of the McKinsey company says that the figure could be as high as 32 trillion dollars. The author also raises the point that this amount, and the majority of wealth, can be linked to the world elite, which comprises less than 1% of the population. And it is primarily large countries like the USA and China who lose out as a result.

The report also gives a country by country breakdown of who has how much hidden in the “secret tax havens.” This list caused quite a stir internationally as no exact sources are given for the figures quoted, and, for example, in the case of Hungary, it is claimed that 242 billion dollars have been transferred over the last 22 years, while the amounts deposited in offshore accounts by the likes of Poland, Ukraine and even Kazakhstan are lower. The report also fails to mention the fact that even in these “secret tax havens” it has been compulsory since the early 2000s to reveal the identity of the true beneficiaries when opening a new bank account, so it is no longer possible to guarantee secrecy anywhere.