Panama Papers: charities call for action on tax avoidance

Ireland urged to do more to demonstrate commitment to tackling tax dodging

A number of charities have called for concrete action to be taken to tackle elaborate tax avoidances schemes following the publication of the Panama Papers.

Christian Aid Ireland described the leaked data is "a shocking, spectacular and damning indictment of an offshore financial system that for too long has worked in favour only of the rich and powerful."

The Panama Papers are a cache of 11.5 million documents and records that show how offshore companies have been used to conceal the ownership and control of assets and property woth billions.

Members of The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, including The Irish Times, have spent more than a year examining the data from Panama-based Mossack Fonseca, one of the biggest providers of offshore services to individuals, companies and middle men who advise them.


Revelations involving Russian president Vladimir Putin, the Icelandic prime minister, FIFA officials, and others are among those produced by the investigation.

Commenting on the expose, Sorley McCaughey, head of advocacy and policy at Christian Aid Ireland, said European Commission proposals requiring companies to report on subsidiaries operating in tax havens were now outdated.

“The Panama Leaks blows the Commission proposal out of the water and must force a major rethink of the role Europe can play in tackling this kind of activity, ‘ said Mr McCaughey.

Irish response

He said it was important for Ireland’s reputation to be seen to be taking opportunities to demonstrate commitment to the highest levels of financial practice.

‘The Irish government has two golden opportunities to respond to these latest revelations. One, is to introduce a publicly accessible register of the true flesh and blood owners of all companies registered in Ireland, and to push their European partners to do likewise. The second thing, is to push the European Commission to introduce full public country by country reporting, including those companies operating in tax havens around the world,’ said Mr McCaughey.

Separately, Oxfam Ireland said the leaks showed the global tax system was being exploited by those who should be paying the most.

"This expose offers a rare glimpse into the murky practices of tax dodging - and the sheer size and scale revealed is staggering," said Oxfam Ireland chief executive Jim Clarken.

“It is not good enough to argue that tax avoidance is permissible because practices fall within the letter of the law. Legal loopholes abuse a broken system. Everyone has a responsibility to contribute towards the public services and infrastructure on which we all rely.”

Mr Clarken said that as political leaders here continue to engage in discussions on formation of a new administration, the measures Ireland can take to assist in the reform of the global tax system should be part of any agreement of a new programme for government.

“”All governments, rich and poor, must work to end tax dodging because it is their citizens - their electorate - who are the biggest losers. They need to fix the system and penalise banks and any others who facilitate tax dodging,” said Mr Clarken.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist