Money (15)

A group of 300 senior economists are calling on world leaders to introduce new rules forcing multinational companies to publish their tax bills country-by-country.

Co-ordinated by Oxfam, a letter to world leaders - which claims poorer countries have been hit hardest by the use of tax havens - calls on the UK to "take the lead" on introducing greater transparency.

The economists said: "We need new global agreements on issues such as public country-by-country reporting, including for tax havens.

"Governments must also put their own houses in order by ensuring that all the territories for which they are responsible make publicly available information about the real 'beneficial' owners of company and trusts

The letter comes in the wake of the Panama Papers leaks, which revealed thousands of money laundering and tax avoidance schemes, and ahead of an anti-corruption summit hosted by the UK government starting on Thursday.

The letter, signed by 50 professors from British universities including the London School of Economics and Oxford, said the UK's sovereignty over a third of the world's tax havens makes it "uniquely placed" to take the lead.

Oxfam said more than half of the businesses set up by Mossack Fonseca - the Panamanian law firm at the heart of the leaks - were based in British Overseas Territories, with the British Virgin Islands the most common offender.

Oxfam chief executive Mark Goldring said: "As long as British-linked tax havens continue to help the rich and powerful get away with dodging tax it will remain deeply damaging to the UK's credibility as a leader in the fight against corruption and global poverty."

Last month, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain agreed to automatically share information with each other in what Chancellor George Osborne described as a "hammer blow" to tax avoiders and money launderers.

And last week, Barack Obama took executive action to introduce new rules to crackdown on international tax evasion.