The work of more than 600 journalists in 117 countries over close to two years, organised and led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, has culminated in the biggest ever leak of offshore holdings. The so-called Pandora Papers follows similar leaks by the ICIJ in the Panama Papers of 2016 and the Paradise Papers in 2017.
The ICIJ, a nonprofit newsroom and network of journalists centered in Washington, works with and shares its data with selected media around the world including the Guardian, the BBC, the Washington Post, Le Monde and Reporter.lu here in Luxembourg.
The Pandora papers has 11.9 million files that, says the ICIJ, “expose how corporate service providers help the wealthy and powerful hide their money in some of the world’s most secretive jurisdictions.”
The data was gathered from 14 offshore service providers whom the ICIJ says operate in Anguilla, Belize, the Bahamas, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, Panama, the United Arab Emirates, the Seychelles, Singapore, Switzerland and Vietnam.
But, as Reporter.lu, points out, several of these internationally networked providers do or did have entities in Luxembourg including Capellen-based Trident Trust, which says its “35-strong Luxembourg office is regulated by the [financial regulation authority] CSSF.”.
Alemán, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (Alcogal), the Panama-based full-service law firm also had a branch in Luxembourg until recently.
Indeed, Reporter.lu says that while Luxembourg figures in “only” around 100,000 of the 11.9 million files, “the grand duchy is often revealed as a not unimportant cog in the well-oiled offshore machine.”
King Abdullah II of Jordan, Azerbaijan president Ilham Aliyev, Czech prime minister Andrej Babiš, Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades and former British prime minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie are all among those named in the Pandora Papers.
The current prime minister of Côte d’Ivoire and the presidents of Ecuador, Kenya and Gabon are also included in the investigation.
“ICIJ’s publication of Pandora Papers stories comes at a critical moment in a global debate over the fairness of the international tax system, the role of Western professionals in the shadow economy and the failure of governments to stanch the flow of dirty money into hidden companies and trusts,” writes ICIJ managing editor Fergus Shiel in an editorial explaining the inside story of the investigation.
Drew Sullivan, publisher of the multi-national OCCRP (Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project), which is one of the media partners of the ICIJ, says the investigation’s revelations puts “an end to any narrative that abuses of the offshore industry are just the work of a few bad apples. Instead, the files expose a vast and interconnected system that is feeding crises and discontent across the world.”
Delano will be following further revelations throughout the next two weeks as more details of the investigation are released by the ICIJ.