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Paradise Papers: The latest in a string of tax-dodge leaks

Before the new revelations in the Paradise Papers this week, the whistleblowing International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) had already leaked troves of papers detailing tax evasion and money laundering.

Here is a recap of the series of leaks by the US-based global network of more than 200 investigative journalists in 70 countries.

Paradise Papers

– Offshore Leaks –

In April 2013 the ICIJ posts online a “who’s who” of people and entities hiding assets offshore.

It is based on 2.5 million documents, including emails, internal memorandums and accounting papers, that are about 122,000 offshore companies run from Singapore and the British Virgin Islands.

The ICIJ’s partners in the media then reveal the names of some of those exposed, including Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev.

– China Leaks –

In January 2014 the group scores a new coup with revelations that China’s elite is also parking money in offshore tax havens. Among those cited are several people close to President Xi Jinping.

Beijing responds by blocking access to the ICIJ’s website and those of collaborating media.

– Luxleaks –

In November 2014 the ICIJ reveals agreements between Luxembourg and 340 multinational companies to limit their exposure to tax, having secured documents from two former employees of the PWC auditing firm.

The trove of leaked documents shows that some of the world’s biggest companies, including AIG, Amazon, Apple, IKEA, Pepsi and Verizon, had brokered secret deals with Luxembourg to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes.

The accords had been reached between 2002 and 2010 when Jean-Claude Juncker was prime minister. Though weakened, he remains president of the European Commission, a post he assumed just days before the leak.

– SwissLeaks –

In February 2015 the ICIJ uncovers a scheme that allegedly helped clients of banking giant HSBC’s Swiss division to evade taxes on accounts worth billions.

The ICIJ uses files stolen by a former employee in 2007 that contain information on more than 100,000 people.

Among the personalities cited are Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and a cousin of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.

– Panama Papers –

The leak of 11.5 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca implicates dozens of politicians, billionaires and football stars in tax evasion and money laundering. It also cites major banks in the creation of offshore companies.

The publication, launched in April 2016, has major repercussions, including the resignation of Iceland’s prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and the impeachment of Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

As a result of the Panama Papers, at least 150 probes have been launched in more than 70 countries, according to the ICIJ.


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