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Offshore-Leaks: Yummy revelations for 130K names from 170 countries hiding billions of euro

A cooordinated effort by investigative journalists in 46 countries reveal the well-kept secrets of the rich. I mean “well-kept” until recently. Then now, the identities of 1,000 holders of anonymous wealth hidden in offshore- and tax-paradises have been exposed. And this seems to be only the start of a broader investigative journalism action: then millions of internal records from Britain’s offshore financial industry, the  British Virgin Islands, have been leaked.

The 260 gigabytes of data made available to the journalists is said to include around 2.5 milllion documents. Among the 130,000 alleged tax cheats from 170 countries listed in the documents are the names of publicly known figures such as oligarchs and weapons traders.

The names have been unearthed in a project by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists [ICIJ] in cooperation with many journalists from other countries,, because it was impossible for ICIJ to deal with this huge amount of data. British Guardian and BBC, French Le Monde, US Washington Post, German Süddeutsche Zeitung and regional public broadcaster Norddeutscher Rundfunk are among the media outlets that took part in the project.

Guardian- Exclusive: Offshore financial industry leak exposes identities of 1,000s of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world

Millions of internal records have leaked from Britain’s offshore financial industry, exposing for the first time the identities of thousands of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world, from presidents to plutocrats, the daughter of a notorious dictator and a British millionaire accused of concealing assets from his ex-wife.

The leak of 2m emails and other documents, mainly from the offshore haven of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), has the potential to cause a seismic shock worldwide to the booming offshore trade, with a former chief economist at McKinsey estimating that wealthy individuals may have as much as $32tn (£21tn) stashed in overseas havens.

• In France, Jean-Jacques Augier, President François Hollande’s 2012 election campaign co-treasurer, launched a Caymans-based distributor in China with a 25% partner in a BVI company. Augier says his partner was Xi Shu, a Chinese businessman.

• BVI’s clients include Scot Young, a millionaire associate of deceased oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Dundee-born Young is in jail for contempt of court for concealing assets from his ex-wife.

As well as Britons hiding wealth offshore, an extraordinary array of government officials and rich families across the world are identified, from Canada, the US, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, China, Thailand, Mongolia, Ajerbaidjan, Switzerland, Germany.

The naming project may be extremely damaging for confidence among the world’s wealthiest people, no longer certain that the size of their fortunes remains hidden from governments and from their neighbours. (full story the Guardian)

It isn’t clear how much money is hidden in the world’s tax havens, but a 2012 report by the British non-governmental agency Tax Justice Network estimated the figure at between $21 and $32 billion (16 billion –  25 billion euros).

Playboy in tax heaven

The most prominent name mentioned so far is the late German-born industrialist , playboy and former husband of Brigitte Bardot, Gunther Sachs. According to the Süddeutsche report, Sachs, who committed suicide in 2011, had millions hidden in offshore firms in  the Cook Islands, Panama, the British Virgin Islands and Luxembourg.”

Greece

Of course, no offshore list would be compeleted without a Greek: Achilleas Kallakis. He used fake BVI companies to obtain a record-breaking £750m in property loans from reckless British and Irish banks. In January 2013 he was found guilty by a UK court to have tricked the Bank of Scotland and the Allied Irish Bank into advancing millions in loans. He currently resides in a UK-prison.

A total of 107 companies have reportedly Greek owners. Only four of these companies have been registered also to Greek tax offices. The Finance Ministry will investigate the cases now.

The leak comes at a time when many governments, particularly in the 17 countries that make up the crisis-hit eurozone, are battling to reduce the amount of debt they hold and pledge cooperation in cracking down tax evasion.

The publishing of Offshore-Leaks will continue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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14 comments

  1. Prediction about the what will happen with the info about the 107 Greek companies:

    Asked why as finance minister he did not look into the existence of the list and use it to crackdown on tax evasion, Venizelos said it was because the list contains information stolen by secret agents.

    This, ofcourse, is about the Lagarde list, that helped every other government in the world to rake in millions, just not in Greece…

    • keeptalkinggreece

      I think they have a longer list, remember the off-shores in Evoia and Kranidi? but ops! they were registered!

      • you are not doing the elite justice KTG. The amount of money they have stashed away in various tax havens is not an estimated 32 billion, it and estimated 32 Trillion…

        • keeptalkinggreece

          there are two versions and I posted both

          • Classic translation trouble. Billion is not Billion… There is a difference between German/Dutch and English in that.

            For Dutch vs. English it is:
            miljoen = million
            miljard = billion
            biljoen = trillion
            biljard = quadrillion
            triljoen = quintillion
            triljard = sextillion
            Trouble is in German Billion and Trillion are writen the same as in English. In all other cases there is an ‘e’ behind the word. Milliarde/Miljard is non-existent in English. So this always goes wrong from there.

            • keeptalkinggreece

              thanks for the advise. I’ll take the sextillion.

              • Sorry but that one is already taken to one of those ‘tax-paradises’ by yours truly… 😀
                Do you know, KTG, that Holland is officially not a tax-paradise anymore? Parliament passed a Motion that stated that it can’t be called that…
                It still is, of course, but officially they won’t use that name…

                • keeptalkinggreece

                  thanks for informing me, Antonis. did Holland got scared by Merkel’s determination?
                  BTW renaming things must have to do with EZ policies. like gov’t here renamed the property levy…

                  • No nothing to do with Merkel. Just a habit Dutch have since the 17th century: keep your doorstep clean and your façade impeccable and nobody will notice, or care about, the mess it is inside.

              • don’t worry about it, it’s only a few “00000…s”:) Nothing serious…

  2. just in case anybody is under any illusions, one of the names that crops up dozens of times relating to various companies on this list is that of the Belgian tax advisor Pierre Bocquet, director of the Belgian company Lancaster Associates. He owns several offshore companies created from the Portcullis TrustNet fiduciary in Singapore.
    When asked by the French language Belgian newspaper “Le Soir” about the authenticiy of this list he confirmed it is indeed authentic, and blunty added that

    The objective is to avoid paying tax, of course