After a report exposed how billionaires, world leaders and others used offshore accounts to keep trillions in dollars out of the government treasuries for the past quarter century, the outcry was a result of limiting the resources that could have been used to help the poor or fight climate change.
The report of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalismists promised tax reform and demanded resignations and investigations as well as explanations or denials from those being targeted.
The investigation, known as the Pandora Papers, involved 600 journalists from 150 media outlets across 117 countries.
According to an analysis of close to 12 million files from 14 companies around the globe, hundreds of celebrities, religious leaders, and drug dealers have used shell companies to conceal their wealth.
Many tax avoidance strategies are legal.
Gabriel Zucman is a University of California Berkeley economist who studies income inequality. He stated in a statement that one solution is "obvious".
Cory Doctorow, activist and science-fiction author, tweeted that "the legality is what really matters." "Each one of these arrangements is a risible fiction. A shell company is a firm, but a firm is a person. That person lives in a file drawer at the desk of an official bank on some distant treasure isle.
More than 330 former and current politicians were identified as beneficiaries of the secret accounts. They include King Abdullah II of Jordan, Tony Blair, Andrej Babis, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta and Guillermo Lasso of Ecuador.
The report names Erman Ilicak, a Turkish construction mogul, and Robert T. Brockman as billionaires. He is also the former CEO at software maker Reynolds & Reynolds.
Some of the targets strongly denied Monday's claims.
Sven Giegold (Green party lawmaker in European Parliament) said that "the new data leak must serve as a wake-up call." "Global tax evasion fuels global inequality. We must now expand and sharpen our countermeasures."
Oxfam International, a British charity consortium, applauded Pandora Papers' revelations of brazen greed that deprive countries of tax revenue that could have been used to fund programs and projects for the greater Good.
"This area is where we have our missing hospitals," Oxfam stated in an statement. "This place is where the pay-packets are of all the additional teachers, firefighters, and public servants that we need."
In response to the revelations, the European Commission, which is the executive arm of the European Union and includes 27 nations, stated that it was preparing new legislative suggestions to improve tax transparency and strengthen the fight against tax fraud.
The Pandora Papers follow a similar project, the "Panama Papers", which was released in 2016. They were compiled by the same journalistic organization.
This latest bombshell uses data from 14 service providers operating in 38 jurisdictions. Although the records date back to 1970s, most of them are from 1996 to 2020.
Accounts registered in offshore havens such as the British Virgin Islands and Seychelles, Hong Kong, Belize, and Hong Kong were investigated. Some of the secrets accounts were also found in trusts in the U.S.A, including 81 in South Dakota as well as 37 in Florida.
Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, a Democrat, heads the Senate Banking Committee. He decried "these gross misuses of our tax and legal system", which he claimed "enable criminals" and "fuel global inequality by allowing wealthy elites not to pay their fair share, while working families are forced into paying the difference."
According to the investigation, Abdullah was assisted by advisers in setting up at least three dozen shell corporations between 1995 and 2017. This allowed the Jordanian monarch to purchase 14 homes in the U.S. worth more than $106million.
Abdullah claimed that there was no impropriety, in a Monday comment by the Royal Palace. He cited security concerns for keeping the transactions secret and said that no public funds were used.
U.K. attorneys for Abdullah stated that he doesn't have to pay taxes according to his country's laws and has not misused public money. Although they refused to give details, they claimed that most of the properties and companies aren't connected to the monarch or no longer exist.
According to the investigation, Blair, the U.K. prime minster from 1997 to 2007, purchased a British Virgin Islands company, which owned the Victorian building, for $8.8 million in 2017. The property now houses the law office of Cherie Blair. They purchased the company from Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Bahrain's tourism and industry minister. The investigation revealed that the Blairs were able to save more than $400,000 on property taxes by buying shares of the company instead of the London building.
Cherie Blair claimed that her husband was not involved in the purchase. She stated that it was intended to bring "the business and the building back into U.K tax and regulatory regimes."
Al-Zayanis' lawyer stated that they had complied with U.K. laws.
The report also examined a transaction involving British monarchy.
Britain's Crown Estate, a property company owned by Queen Elizabeth II said that it would examine the purchase of a London building for 67 million pounds ($91 million) from a company that was allegedly a front for Ilham Aliyev's family. The Guardian newspaper stated that the transaction raised concerns about money-laundering issues. Aliyev has been accused of corruption as well as rights abuses.
Crown Estate stated that it had performed checks prior to the purchase, but is now "looking into" the matter again.
Pakistan's prime minister Khan tweeted that he would recover "ill-gotten gain" and promised his government to investigate all individuals mentioned in the documents and take appropriate action if necessary.
According to the report, Putin's chief image-maker and chief executive at Russia's top TV station, Konstantin Ernst received a discount to purchase and develop Soviet-era cinemas in Moscow. This was after he supervised the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Ernst denied that he was being given any special treatment and said the deal wasn’t secret.
The investigation revealed that Babis, the Czech prime Minister, invested $22 million in shell companies in 2009 to purchase a chateau property in Mougins, France, which is near Cannes. According to documents obtained from Investigace.cz, the journalist group's Czech partner Investigace.cz, the shell companies and chateau weren't disclosed in Babis’ required asset declarations.
Babis denied any wrongdoing. He claimed that the report was intended to hurt him in the run-up to the Czech Republic parliamentary elections on Friday and Saturday.
According to the Czech police, organized crime was being investigated.
Milo Djukanovic, Montenegro's president, was called to resign by the Montenegrin Network for the Affirmation of the Non-Governmental Sector. The network claimed that he and his son created a trust to hide their wealth behind a complex network of companies. His office denied the claim.