Offshore: Bidzina Ivanishvili among identified – Euronews
06 April, 2013
The few hiding money in offshore banks from the many who do not have the luxury…
This is a story the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based in Washington, wants the world to know. That is why it has gone global with the first instalment of what it says is more than 260 gigabytes of data. In it
are details of companies, trusts, intermediaries and the people who benefit.
Among some of the well-known identified are: a Philippino dictator’s daughter, a Spanish art baroness, the businessman-prime minister of Georgia, an Iranian shipping magnate and the ex-wife of a US commodities trader presidentially pardoned for tax evasion.
Then there is a member of France’s political elite, the wife of Russia’s deputy prime minister, the husband of a Canadian Senator, a former finance minister of Mongolia and the daughters of Azerbaijan’s head of state. The names come from more than 170 countries and territories.
The British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands, Singapore, Cyprus – the multi-gigabyte scoop shows a booming tax haven industry selling secrecy to the extremely wealthy, Euronews reports.
Switzerland, often shown the finger of blame for its ultra-discreet banking practices, so far is not on the hook. Only a minuscule proportion of the cover-blown names were linked to it.
The Swiss government’s man for dealing with international financial questions, Mario Tuor, said: “These revelations show that our financial market policy is on the right track, and that we do not want untaxed money in Switzerland, or any criminal money. We hope it shows that Switzerland is really doing something to achieve this goal. Perhaps other financial markets do less; they might have to implement similar to those of Switzerland.”
Meanwhile, the European Commission reacted to Thursday’s publishing of the data by exhorting, once again, EU member states to crack down on tax evasion.
Spokesman Olivier Bailly said: “There must be no going along with companies, individuals or third countries that get around European or national laws to commit tax fraud.”
Brussels says that tax evasion deprives the EU countries of more than one thousand billion euros per year – a trillion euros.
The Tax Justice Network promoting transparency in international finance says tax havens are hiding between fifteen trillion and twenty-three trillion euros of wealth.
If that is so, it makes the leaders’ promises at a get-tough G20 meeting four years ago ring hollow. They came in the wake of the 2008 global financial disaster.
Then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “We have agreed there will be an end to tax havens that do not transfer information on request. The banking secrecy of the past must come to an end. And we have agreed tough standards and sanctions for use against those who don’t come into line in the future. “
The UK, G8 host in June, has a senior anti-corruption campaigner saying the Virgin Islands tax haven “stains the face of Britain”.