A staggering £13tn ($21tn) is being hidden in off-shore accounts away from the prying eyes of taxmen, according to a new report.
Campaign group Tax Justice Network said that the world’s super-rich, with the help of private banks, are squirreling away vast amounts of cash in places such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands and depriving the countries they live in of much-needed money.
The group said that assets held off-shore are equivalent to around one third of the entire world’s financial assets.
Around half of all world trade passes through tax havens, the group said.
James Henry, who compiled the report, said: “[Wealth is] protected by a highly paid, industrious bevy of professional enablers in the private banking, legal, accounting and investment industries taking advantage of the increasingly borderless, frictionless global economy.”
The report, the results of which first appeared in The Observer, highlights that £6.3tn of assets are owned by just 92,000 people.
That may sound a lot, but that’s actually just 0.001% of the world’s population.
Tax Justice Network added: “Offshore finance is not only based in islands and small states: `offshore’ has become an insidious growth within the entire global system of finance.
“The largest financial centres such as London and New York, and countries like Switzerland and Singapore, offer secrecy and other special advantages to attract foreign capital flows.”