Twelve million documents, including three million photos, over a million emails, and nearly 500,000 spreadsheets have been exposed by the Pandora Papers leak.
The report exposes hundreds of international tycoons, world leaders, celebrities, and drug lords in some cases, money laundering by some of them.
Pandora Papers demonstrate that individuals who have the ability to put an end to offshore secrecy, actually gain from it. Therefore, they have no reason to end it.
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The data was collected by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington, DC, which has been conducting its largest-ever global investigation in collaboration with over 150 media organizations.
Over 600 journalists from 117 countries have spent months poring over material from 14 sources, unearthing stories that will be published this week.
The ICIJ estimates that between $5.6 trillion to $32 trillion are hidden in tax heaven countries. According to the International Monetary Fund, tax havens cost governments globally up to $600 billion in missed taxes each year.
The papers detail how some of the world’s wealthiest individuals – including more than 330 politicians from 90 nations – conceal their money through the use of hidden offshore firms.
Jordan’s King Hussein’s £70 million buying spree on properties in the United Kingdom and the United States via secretly-owned corporations.
Azerbaijan’s ruling family’s concealed involvement in property deals worth more than £400 million in the United Kingdom.
Failure of the Czech prime minister to register an offshore investment company used to purchase two £12 million French properties.
.Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family surreptitiously controlled a network of offshore corporations.
According to Shomrim, an investigative journalism nonprofit organization that assisted with the research, 565 Israelis are identified in the Pandora Papers. Most of them were established in the British Virgin Islands.
Likud MK Nir Barkat is also caught up in the scandal. There allegedly is information in the data that shows that Barkat once held possessed assets in the Virgin Islands under his name, but that he later transferred them to his brother, Eli,. This, if true, would be in violation of the Knesset ethics guidelines. The problem for Barkat is also that he said that his investments were placed into a blind trust for ethics reasons, but his own brother is in charge of the portfolio, and having a close relative run a blind trust basically moots its value. Barkat has denounced the allegations as “nonsense.”
There are a variety of valid reasons for individuals to spread and store money and assets in multiple places, such as protection against criminal attacks or protection against unstable regimes.
While it is not unlawful to have secret offshore assets, utilizing a complicated network of secret corporations to shift money and assets always makes it look like you have something to hide; the asset may be from illegal activities, such as bribes, or from the proceeds of inside business deals. nd sometimes politicians just don’t want the public to know how much money they have.
Still, many rich people also use legal loopholes to legitimately avoid paying some taxes by relocating their money to other countries. This is what is called a tax haven.
It’s very simple to establish businesses in tax heaven countries. There is a minimal or non-existent corporate tax and restrictions that make it difficult to determine who owns a business.
The most well-known places for this include British Overseas Territories such as the Cayman Islands and the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Hong Kong, Belize as well as Switzerland and Singapore. However, some of the secret accounts were hidden in trusts established in the United States, including 81 in South Dakota and 37 in Florida.