Excerpts from the NYT Article :
An enormous leak of confidential financial records has revealed the identities of thousands of wealthy depositors — including European officials and corporate executives, Asian dictators and their children, and even American doctors and dentists — who have stashed immense amounts of money in offshore tax havens.
The leak of records, mainly from the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and Singapore, covers 2.5 million files that disclose proprietary information about more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts and nearly 130,000 individuals and agents, including the wealthiest people in more than 170 countries.
* * * *
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a network of reporters that obtained the secret records, collaborated with The Guardian, Asahi Shimbun, Le Monde, The Washington Post and more than 40 other news organizations to untangle and report their contents.
The project, titled “Secrecy for Sale,” appeared to have the potential to create political shock waves, particularly in Europe, where an economic malaise caused by the euro zone debt crisis has created enormous popular resentment toward austerity policies and widened the gap between rich and poor. The project said some of the world’s top banks in Europe, including UBS and Deutsche Bank, had “aggressively worked to provide their customers with secrecy-cloaked companies in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore hideaways.”
It said the files “illustrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe, allowing the wealthy to avoid taxes, fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations.” The current banking crisis threatening Cyprus, it said, “is one example of how the offshore system can impact an entire country’s financial stability."Addendum 4/4/13 4:45pm:
While confidential bank accounts and tax havens are not illegal, the collaboration’s pullback of a curtain on the vast amounts of wealth involved had the potential to create acute embarrassments and political reverberations in many countries, if for no other reason than for revealing in detail the sums of money. The Guardian’s report on the collaboration quoted a former chief economist for the McKinsey consulting group as saying wealthy individuals may have as much as $32 trillion in undisclosed wealth stashed in overseas havens.
A reader just advised as follows:
An article in the Swiss paper SonntagsZeitung that was released earlier today on its web site (in German only, I am afraid) claims that the data came from two offshore trust companies: Commonwealth Trust Limited in the BVI and Portcullis Trustnet out of Singapore. The latter was (again according to the article) used a lot by UBS and Credit Suisse (through its subsidiary Clariden Leu).
Addendum 4/6/13 8:42 am:
- Center for Public Integrity Press Release, here.
- Secret Files Expose Offshore's Global Impact (Huffington Post 4/4/13), here.
Addendum on 4/10/13 4:15 pm: The ICVJ says that it is not turning over its data to Government agencies. See here. Why? And, as importantly, will it really have a choice? And, more importantly, will some of the persons (journalists, etc,) be tempted to turn over selected data to get some whistleblower award offered by the Governments involved?