Wealthy individuals may have been hiding as much as $32 trillion offshore at the end of 2010, according to Tax Justice Network, a U.K.-based organization that campaigns for transparency in the financial system.
The estimate is almost three times the organization’s last estimate of $11.5 trillion in 2005. Fewer than 100,000 people own $9.8 trillion of offshore assets, according to the research, carried out by former McKinsey & Co. economist James Henry.
There is a “huge black hole in the world economy” of untaxed private wealth, Henry said in a statement. “The lost tax revenue implied by our estimates is huge.”
The amount held offshore means that 139 countries with external debts of $4.1 trillion at the end of 2010 would be creditors to the world, if as much as $9.3 trillion of cross-border holdings of their wealthiest citizens were taken into account, according to the research.
The Tax Justice Network study drew on data from the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, central banks, the United Nations and company reports.