Data Leak Exposes Offshore World

April 5, 2013 International Tax CooperationOffshore Banking

offshore jurisdictionsWASHINGTON D.C. – New documents and data have show the size and scale of the “offshore industry” around the world, shedding light on the vast and common use of offshore companies by individuals in over 170 countries.

On April 4th, following a 15 months long investigation, the the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) unveiled the initial results of its analysis of over 2.5 million documents related to more than 120 000 companies, trusts and other business entities registered in jurisdictions that the group labels as “offshore”.

The documents, which were considered to be private, were leaked to the Consortium by an anonymous source, and primarily revolve around entities registered in the British Virgin Island and the Cook Island.

Within a day of the announcement by the ICIJ, tax authorities and media outlets around the world have been clamoring to access and analyze the information, and details of the involvement of several prominent politicians and public figures have already emerged, including the husband of Canadian Senator Pana Merchant, the Prime Minister of Georgia Bidzina Ivanishvili, the wife of the deputy Prime Minister of Russia Igor Shuvalov, and the deputy speaker of the Parliament of Mongolida Bayartsogt Sangajav.

According to the ICIJ there is strong evidence that major banks around the world, including UBS and Deutsche Bank, would routinely help and organize for their wealthy clients to hide assets through the use of structures and entities based in offshore jurisdictions.

Commenting on the the uncovered information, the director of the ICIJ Gerard Ryle explained that offshore entities are not used exclusively by super-wealthy individuals, but also by international corporations and everyday professionals from all around the world, including “…American doctors and dentists and middle-class Greek villagers, as well as Russian corporate executives, Eastern European and Indonesian billionaires, Wall Street fraudsters, international arms dealers.”

Currently it is estimated that the information points to the involvement of people and businesses from more than 170 countries, with a cumulative value of assets and funds of over USD 32 billion, and the major groups exposed at the moment are wealthy business leaders from China and Russia.

Photo by gus_estrella