The Pandora Papers are 11.9 million financial records (2.94 terabytes) of shell companies and trusts leaked online from around the world.
The records were shared online by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICCIJ). The leak opens our eyes to where the world’s politicians and super-rich keep their money. It turns out, tax avoidance through offshore trusts and tax havens are the preferred choice.
The Pandora Papers ‘reveal the inner workings of a shadow economy that benefits the wealthy and well-connected at the expense of everyone else’ according to the ICCJ.
The leak includes ‘35 current and former world leaders, more than 330 politicians and public officials in 91 countries and territories, and a global lineup of fugitives, con artists and murderers'.
The leak even includes information on Tony Blair, the former prime minister of the UK.
The findings from ICCJ demonstrate that the political leaders and governments that have the capacity to stamp out tax avoidance by the super-rich, are themselves using the same tax avoidance loopholes and thereby have invested interest in keeping the schemes going.
The Pandora Papers are the first step in transparency, hopefully sewing the seeds for change. Whilst shell companies and offshore assets are not illegal in themselves, shifting cash from the high tax countries where the money is earned to paper companies in low tax countries is a controversial practice that as the Pandora Papers demonstrate, politicians, celebrities and the wealthy take full advantage of. So the next time your government wants to increase your tax, ask them where they pay theirs!
According to ICIJ, the Pandora Papers show that ‘the offshore money machine operates in every corner of the planet, including the world’s largest democracies'.
And who sets up all the movement of all this offshore money? The largest accounting firms in the world including Price Water House Coopers (PWC).