Obama: Panama Papers leak shines light on 'big global problem'

President Obama addressed the massive Panama Papers leak on Tuesday, saying the documents showed that "tax avoidance is a big global problem.”

“A lot of it’s legal, but that’s exactly the problem,” he said in remarks at the White House where he pushed Congress to enact corporate tax reform.


The Panama Papers are documents from a Panama-based law firm that set up offshore shell companies. More than 100 news outlets examined the documents, finding information about the financial holdings of 140 politicians and public figures around the world. The leak has already led Iceland’s prime minister to resign.

The Justice Department said Monday that it was investigating the documents for evidence of potential financial wrongdoing.

Obama said the issue of tax avoidance is not unique to other countries. In the United States, the wealthy have access to offshore tax havens and other loopholes to game the system, he said.

“Middle class families are not in the same position to do this,” he added.

Progress has been made in tax authorities coordinating with each other, but the U.S. and other countries need to take further action to close loopholes, Obama said.

Funds will always move around the world, Obama said, but cautioned, "we shouldn’t make it easy."