A new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and more than 100 other news organisations around the globe reveals the offshore links of some of the planet’s most prominent people, including over 500 from India.
According to report in The Indian Express, which was part of a coalition of media outlets investigating the documents, says its eight— month investigation of over 36,000 files has revealed around 500 Indian names, including actor Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, real— estate developer DLF’s KP Singh, to politician Anurag Kejriwal, on the firm’s list of offshore companies, foundations and trusts. The newspaper says it has checked the authenticity of over 300 addresses.
Here’s all you need to know about the biggest data leak ever:
— This is the biggest leak of data ever, wherein confidential documents have been leaked that reveals how rich and powerful people use tax havens to conceal their wealth.
— A massive leak of 11.5 million tax documents has exposed the secret offshore dealings of aides to Russian president Vladimir Putin, world leaders and celebrities including Barcelona forward Lionel Messi.
— The leaked documents show links to 72 current or former heads of state, including the families and associates of Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak, Libya’s former leader Muammar Gaddafi and Syria’s president Bashar al— Assad.
— The data was leaked from the internal database of the world’s most secretive companies, Panama— based law firm Mossack Fonseca, with offices in more than 35 countries. The company helped its clients to protect their wealth in secretive offshore tax regimes.
— The files contain the complete details of 214,000 offshore entities.
— More than 11 million documents obtained by ICIJ date from 1977 to December 2015. The documents contain incorporation dates, cash transfers, and all the information related to links between companies and individual.
— While the law firm says, it has operated beyond reproach for 40 years, but has never been charged with criminal wrongdoing.
Among the main claims of the ICIJ investigations:
— Close associates of Putin, who is not himself named in the documents, “secretly shuffled as much as USD2 billion through banks and shadow companies,” the ICIJ said.
— The files identified offshore companies linked to the family of Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has led a tough anti— corruption campaign in his country, the ICIJ said.
— In Iceland, the files allegedly show Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and his wife secretly owned an offshore firm holding millions of dollars in Icelandic bank bonds during the country’s financial crisis.
— The law firm of a member of FIFA’s ethics committee, Juan Pedro Damiani, had business ties with three men indicted in the FIFA scandal: former FIFA vice president Eugenio Figueredo, as well as Hugo Jinkis and his son Mariano who were accused of paying bribes to win soccer broadcast rights in Latin America.
— Argentine football great Messi and his father owned a Panama company, Mega Star Enterprises Inc., a shell company that had previously not come up in Spanish investigations into the father and son’s tax affairs.
Also in the world of football, Francetvinfo named UEFA president Michel Platini as the beneficiary of a Panama— based tax company, adding however that no illegal activity was
Platini’s communications service said in a statement sent to AFP that “all of his accounts and assets are known to the tax authorities in Switzerland, where he has been a tax resident since 2007″.
The revelation of the “Panama Papers” detailing the off— shore structures of many wealthy
clients is a “crime” and an “attack” on Panama, the law firm at the heart of the scandal has said.
“This is a crime, a felony,” Ramon Fonseca, one of the founders of the Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca, said yesterday.
“This is an attack on Panama because certain countries don’t like it that we are so competitive in attracting companies,” he told AFP.