8 April 2013

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists seems comforted that there may be some traction on its recent report on massive tax evasion by the world’s “elites”.  Following from Shaxson’s book on “Treasure Islands” about the growth of tax havens, ICIJ has collated 2.5 million secret records which now “…has ignited reactions around the globe…”

In the few days since the ICIJ report was released “…public officials have issued statements, governments have launched investigations, and politicians and journalists have been debating the implications of the records and the reporting…” The report, specifying the tax havens where about 120,000 of the world’s elite have undisclosed investments, is described as being 160 times the size of WikiLeaks’ cache.

Official reactions in some jurisdictions seem to be self exculpatory – including France, Azerbaijan and Colombia, although promising reactions have been made by Ministers with revenue responsibilities in Canada, Germany, Greece the Philippines, and New Zealand.

A Sydney Morning Herald article indicated that a Fairfax reporter received the massive package of data when investigating an Australian fraud.  When subsequently,he was appointed as director of ICIJ in 2011, he called on the membership to unscramble the content.  The findings of 15 month’s work by 86 investigative journalists in 46 countries will be drip fed to the international media in “…a strategy similar to that used by WikiLeaks when it released hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables in 2010…”

New Zealand may be tarnished as the attitudes of tax haven governments become better known.  The Cook Islands is substantial player in the tax haven market, and though self governing, of course is part of New Zealand.