Panama Papers Leak - 500 Indians Named Potential Tax Evaders


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

On April 3, 2016 the world became familiar with the Panama Papers: a massive 2.6-terabyte leak of confidential documents revealing a deep web of international corruption and tax evasion from the world's political elite.

Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca — which specializes in helping foreigners set up international shell companies to protect their financial assets – leaked the papers to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to expose the offshore holdings and hidden financial dealings of some of the world's most familiar names.

Panama Papers is the largest international cooperation of its kind in the world. In the last one year, around 400 journalists from more than 100 media organisations in over 80 countries have taken part in researching the documents. Journalists from media organisations like BBC, Guardian, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Falter, among others have also worked on the project. The leak is considered to be the largest in the Journalism world.

According to a report in the Indian Express, 500 Indians are on the list, including actor Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, real-estate developer DLF's KP Singh, to politican Anurag Kejriwal.
Although, The International Consortium of Investigate Journalists, the team behind these Panama Papers said that many of these offshore companies are likely to be for legitimate uses.

What is Mossack Fonseca?

It's a Panamanian law firm that sells anonymous offshore companies around the world. These shell companies allow their promoters to hide their business dealings. Mossack Fonseca has dozens of offices all over the world. It has founded, sold and managed thousands of companies.
The company sells its shell companies in cities such as Zurich, London, and Hong Kong, among others.

How the leak took place?

An anonymous source contacted a German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) over a year ago period and submitted encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca. In the following months, the newspaper found that the number of documents continued to grow far beyond the original leak and therefore, it acquired 2.6 terabytes of data, making the leak the biggest that journalists had ever worked on.

What's the data all about?

It reveals information on how an overseas industry led by major banks, legal firms, and asset management companies secretly manages the assets of the world's rich and famous personalities from politicians, FIFA officials, fraudsters, drug smugglers, to celebrities and professional athletes.
It provided a clear picture of how Mossack Fonseca routinely accepts investments from world's rich and famous to engage in business activities that potentially violate sanctions, besides helping and abetting tax evasion and money laundering.
 


Tuesday, 05th Apr 2016, 08:27:02 PM

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