|A couple of weeks
ago traders in Barclays Bank were reported as having deliberately lied
about fixing Libor interest rates to maximise their own profits on
One week later HSBC, one of the world's biggest banks, apologised for allowing drug gangs to launder billions of dollars.
A global elite group of super-rich has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary amount of wealth offshore.
Research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network says the value is as much as the gross domestic products of the US and Japan combined.
James Henry, a former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in that report.
The world's super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off possibly as much as $32 trillion from their home countries and hide it abroad.
In fact, G20 member countries, both developed and emerging economies, have been pledging to close down tax havens since 2008.
Tax loopholes and tax havens are exploited by multinationals and the super-rich to avoid paying high taxes. If tax evasion is a crime, tax avoiders aim to pay the minimum possible without breaking the law.
"It's not a question of rocket science and how difficult to do that, all they have to do is improve information exchange between countries and require disclosure of information about offshore accounts, offshore companies, offshore trusts. The fact of the matter is they don't want to do it because they themselves are complicit with the process."
Inside Story asks: Should these havens be allowed to exist? Is paying tax good or bad? Why do the wealthiest people on earth hide their money in tax havens? Is it greed or a lack of trust in their governments? Why are they not caught, held accountable and forced to pay their taxes like everyone else?
Joining the discussion with presenter Stephen Cole are guests: Jean-Pierre Diserens, the general-secretary of the Convention of Independent Financial Advisors; Myret Zaki, a best-selling financial author of UBS: Below a scandal, Banking Secrecy is Dead, Long Live Tax Evasion, and The end of the dollar; and Sony Kapoor, the managing director of Re-Define, an international think tank that advises governments and policy makers on economic and financial sector policy.
TAX HAVENS DETAILS: