Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International is urging the European Union to take the lead in efforts to expose those who represent, or profit, from businesses with secretive links to the world's biggest tax havens.

Transparency International's call comes in the wake of Wednesday's leaking of documents by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that gave the names of directors and owners of more than 175,000 Bahamian companies, trusts and foundations. Prime ministers, princes and convicted felons were all on the list.

Neelie Kroes, who used to lead the European Commission's anti-trust unit, was revealed as director of one company, Mint Holdings. She had not declared her role when she took the job.

Transparency's EU director Carl Dolan said Kroes's links "would have remained secret were it not for a leak."