How Panama papers are more than just working with tax havens

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An unprecedented leak of more than 11 million files forms, the Panama Papers offered the world a panoramic glimpse of how crooked the world can be. The records that were obtained all the way from Süddeutsche Zeitung, a German Newspaper shared the same with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) gave access to this highly sought database, which in a myriad pattern depicts how the rich upper class has been exploiting the tax regimes offshore to their own benefit. Among the names mentioned, there were 12 national leaders who were notable among a total of 143 politicians along with their close associates and family members present all around the globe.

One of the most notable was the Russian czar Vladimir Putin where the trail leads to more than $2bn. Putin’s best friend is a cellist known as Sergei Roldugin who happens to be right at the center of this fiasco. Funds were majorly hidden offshore belonged to Russian Banks and some part of it also trails back to a ski resort where Katerina, Putin’s Daughter had tied the knot in 2013. Other notable leaders included Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, ex-interim prime minister and former vice-president of Iraq Ayad Allawi, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Alaa Mubarak, the son of Egypt’s ex-president along with the Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson.

The British premier, David Cameron’s father ran an offshore investment fund that helped him to avoid tax in English soil by willfully hiring a small troop of Bahamian residents who helped him with the paperwork. Reportedly, the fund was registered with the Customs department as well as, with HM Revenue and has been functional in filing detailed tax returns year after year. Mossack Fonseca, the law firm based out of Panama and the name behind Panama Papers delivered services that incorporates companies offshore like that of in British Virgin Islands. Other major services include wealth management. The question that holds paramount amount of interest is that how much data has been leaked and how much is still kept latent. This leak undoubtedly is the biggest leak ever in recent times is even larger compared to US diplomatic cable that is released by WikiLeaks that happened in 2010, when Snowden came into limelight. Mossack Fonseca’s internal database has more than 11.5 m documents as well as 2.6 TB of information that was drawn.

Now, using offshore structures is nothing but legal. However, there are quite a few legitimate reasons for the same. In countries like Ukraine and Russia, businessmen generally put out their assets on an offshore basis in order to safeguard or defend it against criminals and also to topple and repel currency fluctuations. Others, they use offshore accounts for inheritance reasons and estate planning. Last year in Singapore, David Cameron addressing to media regarding the same said how the company structures are being put to best advantage by crooked and corrupt. The government in connection would like to set up one central register that shall adequately reveal all owners who are beneficial for offshore companies. Starting June, companies shall have to reveal significant owners for the very first time.

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