Offshore Leaks

Cayman IslandsPhoto: flickr.com/@giovanni

Cayman Islands
Photo: flickr.com/@giovanni

The current Cazhuac story has shed light on an organization that collaborates 160 reporters, has more than 2.5 million analyzed documents, and logs a long list of offshore companies and tax havens used by the wealthy worldwide. With Wikileaks and Vatileaks not far off in our memories, Offshore Leaks is the newest global scandal. Yesterday, more than thirty foreign media groups published a long list of names associated to these offshore accounts.

Made possible by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the data was compiled from two groups specialized in offshore accounts: Commonwealth Trust Limited in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, and Partcullis Trustnet, based out of Singapore.

The Guardian explained that “these leaks have the potential to cause a seismic shock through the world.” Le Matin specified that the given data involved 122,000 entities owned by more than 130,000 people in 140 countries. The analysis of contracts, passport photocopies, spreadsheets, and accounting books yielded this information. The sheer size of this coordinated effort has sparked a scandal of huge proportions—implicating even Jean-Jacques Augier, the financial manager of President Hollande’s campaign.

The Guardian continued to highlight the diversity of offshore investors. In the list of names, “we find American dentists, families of despots, middle class Greek villagers, some Wall street crooks, Indonesian and Eastern European billionaires, Russian leaders, arms dealers and a society presented as the bridgehead of the Iranian nuclear program.” This level of financial criminology is unprecedented and has put the many of the super-rich on the spot — more than that, on the front page.

Of these listed names, some of the more prominent figures deserve a dishonorable mention. There is the former Mongolian Minister of Finance, the President of Azerbaijan and his family, wife of Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov, the husband of a Canadian Senator, and famous Spanish art collector Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza.

On the French side, more than 130 people have been named, yet the focus is now on Augier, Hollande’s campaign financial manager. According to Le Monde, he is a shareholder of two offshore companies in the Cayman Islands through a subsidiary of Eurane China. “I invested in this group through a subsidiary of Eurane in China as an intermediary. The investment was in international bookstores and appeared on the balance sheet of this subsidiary. Nothing is illegal,” emphasized Augier to Le Monde.

He went on to highlight that he holds “neither a personal bank account open in the Caymans, nor any direct personal investments in the area.” These cries echo the words of Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, who assured the legality of her investments.

Project “Offshore Leaks” started around 15 months ago, with one anonymous package in Australia. Journalist Gerard Ryle received this package that contained three years of investigative work on the scandal of Firepower. This package was the catalyst for Ryle to create the ICIJ to use international collaboration and the spread of information to his advantage. Unlike Wikileaks, the data was never organized nor cataloged — a great feat overcome by these reporters. According to Le Figaro, the hard-drive for Offshore Leaks contains 260 gigabytes of documents. To put that in context, it has 160 times more information than the cables listed on WikiLeaks in 2010.

This may be the first you are hearing of Offshore Leaks, but it is by no means the last. Especially during a time of worldwide economic hardship, those guilty of financial crimes will soon have to face their judgment day. Thanks to Offshore Leaks, that day will come soon.

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  1. […] The current Cazhuac story has shed light on an organization that collaborates 160 reporters, has more than 2.5 million analyzed documents, and logs a long list of offshore companies and tax havens used by the wealthy worldwide. With Wikileaks and Vatileaks not far off in the public memory, Offshore Leaks is the newest global scandal. More than 30 foreign media groups published a long list of names associated to these offshore accounts. Made possible by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the data were compiled from two groups specializing in offshore accounts: Commonwealth Trust Limited in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, and Partcullis Trustnet, based out of Singapore. Read more about the Offshore Leaks. […]

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