In conjunction with German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published details on Wednesday of 175,000 companies listed at the corporate registry in the Bahamas in a bid to highlight its use as an offshore tax haven.
Among the files included the former EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes who has been forced to admit she breached the European commission’s code of conduct by failing to declare her directorship of an offshore company while she was actively policing multinationals.
Kroes was recruited by a United Arab Emirates-funded venture fund, which was looking to buy international assets of notoriously ill-fated energy company Enron in a $7bn (£5.4bn, €6.2bn) deal.
UK Home Secretary Amber Rudd has come under fire for her role as director of two offshore companies, Advanced Asset Allocation Fund and Advanced Asset Allocation Management, between 1998 and 2000.
“With around £172bn held in Bahamian banks (26 times the nation’s GDP) it is expected that HMRC will apply resources to examine this information as soon as possible to continue with its ongoing efforts to tackle tax evasion.”
Miles Dean, managing partner of Milestone International Tax, defended the politician’s use of offshore firms, arguing that “offshore entities are used very frequently in finance”.
“There is nothing untoward about such arrangements and to suggest there is, is dirty, lazy jealous politicking.
“Offshore entities are used very frequently in finance, as tax neutral pooling vehicles for onshore and offshore investors, collective investment schemes and so on,” he said.
Dean added that calls for Rudd to resigns or “answer serious questions” about her use of such arrangements are “completely illogical”.
Isobel Clift, manager at Blick Rothenberg, a firm specialising in tax investigations, said the latest leak will provide HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and other global jurisdictions with further ammunition in the ongoing war against tax evasion.
“With around £172bn held in Bahamian banks (26 times the nation’s GDP) it is expected that HMRC will apply resources to examine this information as soon as possible to continue with its ongoing efforts to tackle tax evasion,” she explained.