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In a study published in the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, they said many firms involved in illegal fishing worldwide used tax havens to register their vessels, while investments in farming that has damaged the rainforest often flow via offshore accounts.
The study follows the 2015 leak of the Panama Papers, which showed how wealthy individuals and companies use offshore schemes to reduce their tax bills.
Seventy percent of fishing vessels implicated in illegal, unreported and unregulated catches had been registered at some point in a tax haven, led by Belize and Panama, the scientists wrote in the journal.
By contrast, they said, only about four percent of all the fishing vessels registered worldwide are flagged in tax havens.
The scientists also cited documents from Brazil’s central bank which showed that almost 70 percent — or $18.4bn of a total $26.9bn — of foreign capital invested by major companies in soy and beef farming in Brazil from 2000-2011 had flowed through tax havens.
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