JOHANNESBURG - A year after the Panama Papers expose, news of a massive financial information leak, detailing illicit offshore account activity from the Bermuda law firm, Appleby Group Services, surfaced.
Dubbed the 'Paradise Papers', the leak exposed the muddy world of offshore finance and just how intricately politicians, celebrities and high-net-worth individuals use complex structures to protect their wealth from higher taxes.
The leak has since prompted former UK prime minister Gordon Brown to launch an online petition to the Group of 20, an international forum for governments and bank governors, calling for an end to global tax havens.
A segment of the online petition which was created on Avaaz, a global campaigning community, reads:
"Dear friends, Eight years ago as UK Prime Minister and chair of the G20, I tried to end the injustice of global tax havens. But as the "Paradise Papers" leak shows, trillions are still being siphoned off to dodge tax in the most shadowy places in the global economy.
It’s one of today’s greatest injustices, allowing the richest to stand aside while the rest of us pay for health, education, and protecting the most vulnerable.
But now we have a chance to stop it -- through an international agreement that outlaws tax havens and imposes penalties and prison sentences on tax evaders. And the G20, the leaders of the world's biggest economies, can make it happen.
Please join me in signing this open letter to Argentine President Mauricio Macri, chair of the G20 -- if a million of us sign, I will personally deliver it to him, asking him and other G20 leaders to take urgent action to finish the job we began in 2009. Join with one click."
Explaining his decision to drive the campaign on the platform, Brown said, “As someone who was the target of Avaaz campaigns when I was Prime Minister, I can tell you that they make a powerful difference. This movement is driving forward the idealism of the world. This scandal gives us the chance to tackle one of the biggest challenges we face head-on – let’s not waste it.”
- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE