Tax evasion has been one of those subjects that leaders talk big but do little about, a leak of million of documents naming heads of state and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens could explain why.
Named the Panama Papers, have been leaked from Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm whose services include incorporating companies in offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands and administering offshore firms and also a services called 'wealth management'.
The leaked data covers nearly 40 years, from 1977 through the end of 2015 and has been labelled 'the biggest leak in journalistic history' as it contains 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm and has been made available through the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
It should be noted that while using offshore structures is entirely legal and there are many legitimate reasons for doing so, in a speech last year in Singapore, David Cameron said: 'the corrupt, criminals and money launderers take advantage of anonymous company structures' and that 'The government is trying to do something about this' and that it will set up a register to reveal the beneficial owners of offshore companies.
Embarrassingly one of the names included in the twelve national leaders, 143 politicians, celebrities and sports personalities and their families and close associates from around the world known to have been using offshore tax havens is Ian Cameron, David Cameron's late father.
British politicians include six members of the House of Lords, three former Conservative MPs and dozens of donors to UK political parties who have had offshore assets. Named so far are Baroness Sharples, MP Michael Mates and Lord Michael Ashcroft.
Accusations were made against several acting heads of states, including Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Saudi Arabian King Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud, UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Ukranian President Petro Poroshenko, as well as former heads of states, including Iraqi Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.
Accusations were also made against footballer Lionel Messi and friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, former UEFA President Michel Platini, FIFA executive Jerome Valcke, movie star Jackie Chan, golfer Nick Faldo and Leicester City sriker Leonardo Ulloa.
The files expose offshore companies controlled by Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan, and the children of the president of Azerbaijan and Kojo Annan who is the son of ex-U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan.
The families of at least eight current and former members of China's supreme ruling body, the politburo, have been found to have hidden wealth offshore.
As with many of Mossack Fonseca’s clients, there is no evidence that any of the above used their offshore companies for improper purposes and having an offshore company isn’t illegal although morally, they are on very dodgy ground and the relevant tax authorities will be the ones to decide of any wrongdoing.