"It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of just eight men – so few they would fit on a golf buggy"
Eight men own the same wealth as the 3.6 billion people who represent the poorer half of the world’s population, according to a new report published by Oxfam as political and business leaders meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The report accuses governments of allowing corporations and the "super-rich" to avoid tax and to "use their power to influence politics – which is fueling the inequality crisis," according to the report.
Here are the top earners who have more than half the world's population, according to Oxfam's numbers:
1. Bill Gates: America founder of Microsoft (net worth $75 bn)
2.Amancio Ortega: Spanish founder of Inditex which owns the Zara fashion chain (net worth $67 bn)
3. Warren Buffett: American CEO and largest shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway (net worth $60.8 billion)
4. Carlos Slim Helu: Mexican owner of Grupo Carso (net worth: $50 bn)
5. Jeff Bezos: American founder, chairman and chief executive of Amazon (net worth: $45.2 bn)
6. Mark Zuckerberg: American chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of Facebook (net worth $44.6 bn)
7. Larry Ellison: American co-founder and CEO of Oracle (net worth $43.6 bn)
8. Michael Bloomberg: American founder, owner and CEO of Bloomberg LP (net worth: $40 bn)
Oxfam warns that this extreme concentration of wealth among the '1%' is damaging attempts to tackle global poverty.
Jim Clarken, Oxfam Ireland Chief Executive said: "It is obscene for so much wealth to be held in the hands of just eight men – so few they would fit on a golf buggy – when one in nine people on this planet go to bed hungry every night. Public anger is already creating political shockwaves across the globe with inequality cited as a significant factor in the election of Donald Trump in the US and Brexit in the UK.
"People are tired of a system which seems rigged against them, where big business and the super-rich use their money and connections to ensure government policy works for them."
Oxfam says the Irish Government needs to get tougher on tax
Oxfam Ireland is calling on the Irish Government to introduce new mechanisms to increase tax transparency and stop companies avoiding taxes through their Irish operations.
It warns that mulitnationals cutting their tax bills is having a negative impact on poorer countries:
"The Irish Government has made efforts to reform the tax system especially in relation to tax dodging by wealthy individuals. We need to tackle aggressive tax planning by corporations, to implement strong controlled foreign company rules to prevent profit-shifting and improve transparency by forcing multinationals to make public where they make profits and pay tax," Mr Clarken continued.