In Depth ICIJ Expose Names 170, nations 2.5 Lakh Entities including 612 Indians hide black money in tax heaven
In Depth ICIJ Expose Names 170, nations 2.5 Lakh Entities including 612 Indians hide black money in tax heaven
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is an active global network of 160 reporters in more than 60 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories.
Founded in 1997, ICIJ was launched as a project of the Center for Public Integrity to extend the Center’s style of watchdog journalism, focusing on issues that do not stop at national frontiers: cross-border crime, corruption, and the accountability of power.
ICIJ has claimed that it has unearthed details of 2.5 lakh individuals and entities from more than 170 countries, including India, that evaded taxes by setting up companies in tax havens.
A cache of 2.5 million files has cracked open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts, exposing hidden dealings of politicians, con men and the mega-rich the world over.
The secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists lay bare the names behind covert companies and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and other offshore hideaways.
The leaked files provide facts and figures — cash transfers, incorporation dates, links between companies and individuals — that illustrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe, allowing the wealthy and the well-connected to dodge taxes and fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations alike.
ICIJ’s 15-month investigation found that, alongside perfectly legal transactions, the secrecy and lax oversight offered by the offshore world allows fraud, tax dodging and political corruption to thrive.
Government officials and their families and associates in Azerbaijan, Russia, Canada, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Mongolia and other countries have embraced the use of covert companies and bank accounts.
The mega-rich use complex offshore structures to own mansions, yachts, art masterpieces and other assets, gaining tax advantages and anonymity not available to average people.
Many of the world’s top’s banks – including UBS, Clariden and Deutsche Bank – have aggressively worked to provide their customers with secrecy-cloaked companies in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore hideaways.
A well-paid industry of accountants, middlemen and other operatives has helped offshore patrons shroud their identities and business interests, providing shelter in many cases to money laundering or other misconduct.
Ponzi schemers and other large-scale fraudsters routinely use offshore havens to pull off their shell games and move their ill-gotten gains.
Offshore patrons identified in the documents include:
Individuals and companies linked to Russia’s Magnitsky Affair, a tax fraud scandal that has strained U.S.-Russia relations and led to a ban on Americans adopting Russian orphans.
A Venezuelan deal maker accused of using offshore entities to bankroll a U.S.-based Ponzi scheme and funneling millions of dollars in bribes to a Venezuelan government official.
A corporate mogul who won billions of dollars in contracts amid Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s massive construction boom even as he served as a director of secrecy-shrouded offshore companies owned by the president’s daughters.
Indonesian billionaires with ties to the late dictator Suharto, who enriched a circle of elites during his decades in power.
Imee MarcosMaria Imelda Marcos Manotoc
Details: Daughter of former Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos and at present governor of the province of Ilocos Norte.
Offshore business: Beneficiary and investment advisor to Sintra Trust (2002) in the British Virgin Islands. She was also a financial advisor for a company in which the Sintra Trust was a shareholder, ComCentre Corporation (2002), and a “master client” for the M Trust in Labuan, Malaysia (2007-2009).
ICIJ had identified the eldest daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Maria Imelda Marcos Manotoc, as a beneficiary of a British Virgin Islands (BVI) trust, Philippine officials said they were eager to find out whether any assets in the trust are part of the estimated $5 billion her father amassed through corruption.
Tony Merchant, one of Canada’s top class-action lawyers, took extra steps to maintain the privacy of a Cook Islands trust that he’d stocked with more than $1 million in 1998, the documents show.
In a filing to Canadian tax authorities, Merchant checked “no” when asked if he had foreign assets of more than $100,000 in 1999, court records show.
Between 2002 and 2009, he often paid his fees to maintain the trust by sending thousands of dollars in cash and traveler’s checks stuffed into envelopes rather than using easier-to-trace bank checks or wire transfers, according to documents from the offshore services firm that oversaw the trust for him.
Other high profile names identified in the offshore data include the wife of Russia’s deputy prime minister, Igor Shuvalov, and two top executives with Gazprom, the Russian government-owned corporate behemoth that is the world’s largest extractor of natural gas.
Shuvalov’s wife and the Gazprom officials had stakes in BVI companies, documents show.
Bayartsogt Sangajav, deputy speaker of Mongolia’s Parliament, he has also served as financed Minister.
records show he has an offshore company and a secret Swiss bank account.
he hasn’t officially declared his BVI company or the Swiss account in Mongolia
Spanish names include a baroness and famed art patron, Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, who is identified in the documents using a company in the Cook Islands to buy artwork through auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s, including Van Gogh’s Water Mill at Gennep.
USA = Total Number 4000 Files Names
Among nearly 4,000 American names is Denise Rich, a Grammy-nominated songwriter whose ex-husband was at the center of an American pardon scandal that erupted as President Bill Clinton left office.
A Congressional investigation found that Rich, who raised millions of dollars for Democratic politicians, played a key role in the campaign that persuaded Clinton to pardon her ex-spouse, Marc Rich, an oil trader who had been wanted in the U.S. on tax evasion and racketeering charges.
Records obtained by ICIJ show she had $144 million in April 2006 in a trust in the Cook Islands, a chain of coral atolls and volcanic outcroppings nearly 7,000 miles from her home at the time in Manhattan.
The trust’s holdings included a yacht called the Lady Joy, where Rich often entertained celebrities and raised money for charity.
Rich, who gave up her U.S. citizenship in 2011 and now maintains citizenship in Austria
Another prominent American in the files who gave up his citizenship is a member of the Mellon dynasty, which started landmark companies such as Gulf Oil and Mellon Bank. James R. Mellon – an author of books about Abraham Lincoln and his family’s founding patriarch, Thomas Mellon – used four companies in the BVI and Lichtenstein to trade securities and transfer tens of millions of dollars among offshore bank accounts he controlled.
Like many offshore players, Mellon appears to have taken steps to distance himself from his offshore interests, the documents show. He often used third parties’ names as directors and shareholders of his companies rather than his own, a legal tool that owners of offshore entities often use to preserve anonymity.
Mellon is a British national now.
The documents show, that CTL set up 31 companies in 2006 and 2007 for an individual later identified in U.K. court claims as a front man for Mukhtar Ablyazov, a Kazakh banking tycoon who has been accused of stealing $5 billion from one of the former Russian republic’s largest banks.
ICIJ’s review of TrustNet documents identified 30 American clients accused in lawsuits or criminal cases of fraud, money laundering or other serious financial misconduct.
They include ex-Wall Street titans Paul Bilzerian, a corporate raider who was convicted of tax fraud and securities violations in 1989, and Raj Rajaratnam, a billionaire hedge fund manager who was sent to prison in 2011 in one of the biggest insider trading scandals in U.S. history.
The Thai official, Nalinee “Joy” Taveesin, is currently Thailand’s international trade representative. She served as a cabinet minister for Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra before stepping down last year.
Taveesin acquired her BVI company in August 2008. That was seven months after she’d been appointed an advisor to Thailand’s commerce minister — and three months before the U.S. Department of Treasury blacklisted her as a “crony” of Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe.
The Treasury Department froze her U.S. assets, accusing her of “secretly supporting the kleptocratic practices of one of Africa’s most corrupt regimes” through gem trafficking and other deals made on behalf of Mugabe’s wife, Grace, and other powerful Zimbabweans.
Records obtained by ICIJ also reveal a secret company belonging to Muller Conrad “Billy” Rautenbach, a Zimbabwean businessman who was blacklisted by the U.S. for his ties to the Mugabe regime at the same time as Taveesin. The Treasury Department said Rautenbach has helped organize huge mining projects in Zimbabwe that “benefit a small number of corrupt senior officials.”
An analysis by ICIJ, the BBC and The Guardian identified a cluster of 28 “sham directors” who served as the on-paper representatives of more than 21,000 companies between them, with individual directors representing as many 4,000 companies each.
Among the front men identified in the documents obtained by ICIJ is a U.K.-based operative who served as a director for a BVI company, Tamalaris Consolidated Limited, which the European Union has labeled as a front company for the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line. The E.U., the U.N. and the U.S. have accused IRISL of aiding Iran’s nuclear-development program.
Germany’s largest financial institution, Deutsche Bank, helped its customers maintain more than 300 secretive offshore companies and trusts through its Singapore branch, an investigation by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, German public broadcaster NDR and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has found.
More than 100 customer consultants at Deutsche Bank Singapore helped create or manage 309 offshore entities for its customers in the British Virgin Islands and other tax havens, according to secret records obtained by the news organizations.
Deutsche Bank registered the entities with the help of Portcullis TrustNet, an offshore services provider headquartered in Singapore. Many companies list Deutsche Bank subsidiary Regula Limited as their directors.
Prime MinisterBidzina IvanishviliBidzina Ivanishvili
Details: Georgia’s richest man, with a net worth estimated by Forbes magazine at more than $5 billion. Was elected prime minister in October 2012, straight from the business world.
Offshore business: Director of Bosherston Overseas Corp. in the British Virgin Islands (2006). The company is still in existence, according to BVI records
Jean-Jacques Augier.Jean-Jacques AugierJean-Jacques Augier
Details: Campaign treasurer of François Hollande for the 2012 presidential elections. They studied together at the prestigious National School of Management (ENA). He’s also chief executive officer of investment holding company Eurane SA, mainly focused on the publishing field.
Offshore business: Shareholder — through Eurane SA — and director of International Bookstores Ltd (2005) in the Cayman Islands.
José Eliecer Pinto Gutiérrez
Details: Top commander in the Amazonas state, overseeing security in the Venezuela-Colombia border.
Offshore business: Shareholder, director and secretary of Romana International Holdings, Ltd. (2003-2006) in the British Virgin Islands.
Aye Zaw Win
Son-in-law of Burma's former dictator Ne Win
Details: General Ne Win was a military strongman who ruled Burma during three decades, 1962-1988. His family became wealthy through business activities including forestry and fisheries.
Offshore business: Shareholder of Compass Point Finance Limited (1996) and Sky-Link Communications Ltd. (1997) in the British Virgin Islands. The companies were transferred to another offshore service provider, but the records do not provide a date.
"Billy" Rautenbach"Billy" RautenbachMuller Conrad "Billy" Rautenbach
Details: Zimbabwean millionaire with close links to the Mugabe regime. The United States blacklisted him saying he has helped organized huge mining projects in Zimbabwe that “benefit a small number of corrupt senior officials.” Rautenbach fled South Africa in 1999 after being accused of fraud. The charges lodged personally against him were dismissed, but a South African company he controlled pleaded guilty to criminal charges and paid a fine of roughly $4 million.
Offshore business: Shareholder of Artemis Group, LTD. (2006) in the British Virgin Islands.
Ilham AliyevIlham AliyevIlham Aliyev, Mehriban Aliyeva, Arzu Aliyeva and Leyla Aliyeva
Details: Ilham Aliyev is the president of Azerbaijan and Mehriban Aliyeva is his wife. Arzu and Leyla are the couple's daughters. The Aliyev family, beginning with Ilham’s father, Heydar Aliyev, has held power in Azerbaijan almost without interruption since the late 1960s.
Offshore business: Ilham Aliyev and Mehriban Aliyeva were directors of Rosamund International Ltd (2003) in the British Virgin Islands. Arzu Aliyeva was a director and shareholder of BVI company Arbor Investments (2008). Leyla Aliyeva was director and shareholder of LaBelleza Holdings Ltd. (2008) and Harvard Management Ltd. (2008) both in the BVI.
Eka Tjipta Widjaja
Details: Head of Indonesia’s second richest family (2012), owns rainforest-clearing Asia Pulp and Paper and world's second largest palm oil plantations.
Offshore business: Beneficial owner, through his Sinar Mas conglomerate, of various pulp and palm oil British Virgin Islands and Labuan offshore companies
Potjaman Na PombejraPotjaman
Former Thai first lady
Details: Former wife of Thailand’s ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Potjaman and Shinawatra obtained a high-profile divorce at the Thai consular office in Hong Kong in 2008. Two years later, about $1.4 billion of Shinawatra’s family assets were seized after he was found guilty by the Supreme Court of corruption and abuse of power to benefit his family’s telecommunication company, Shin Corporation, while he was prime minister.
Offshore business: Potjaman Na Pombejra acquired an offshore company called Premium Select Inc. (2007) in the British Virgin Islands, and soon after she was listed as the sole beneficial owner. The company was set up through the service of UBS AG Singapore.
Details: Ex-British SAS, he was involved in security work and diamond mining during the Sierra Leone civil war.
Offshore business: Director of Hinterland Mining Brokers Limited (1997-2000) in the Cook Islands.
Details: Ablyazov stands accused of embezzling up to $5 billion from a state-owned Kazakhstan bank in what British media describe as the biggest fraud in history.
Offshore business: An individual later named in U.K. court documents as a front man for Mukhtar Ablyazov set up 31 companies in 2006 and 2007 in the British Virgin Islands.
Sheik Sabah Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah and two relatives
Members of Kuwait's ruling family
Details: Sheik Sabah Jaber Al-Ali Al-Sabah has headed the Kuwaiti Public Ports Authority. He and his brother are sons of Kuwait’s former deputy prime minister
Offshore business: He or his relatives are shareholders in two British Virgin Islands companies CIC Realty, Inc and Capital Investment Company Group, Ltd for seven years until 2002
Alvaro Uribe and his sons.Tomás Uribe Moreno and Jerónimo Alberto Uribe Moreno
Details: Sons of former Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe. During their father’s eight years in office, they were accused of influence-peddling in two high-profile scandals, including in a case in which they acquired land in an area whose value skyrocketed after authorities granted it tax-free status. They were acquitted in both cases but prosecutors have started investigating new leads related to the land acquisitions.
Offshore business: Shareholders of Asia America Investment Corporation (2008) in the British Virgin Islands.
Abdourahman "Charles" Boreh
Businessman and politician
Details: One of Djibouti's most wealthy and powerful businessmen and a 2011 presidential election candidate. He is exiled in Dubai.
Offshore business: Beneficial owner of Net Support Holdings Ltd (2007) in the British Virgin Islands and Value Additions Ltd (2007) in Samoa
Details: Co-owns RosUkrEnergo, a partnership with Gazprom, the Russian natural gas giant. U.S. law enforcement officials and diplomats have linked him to arms and drug trafficking and to reputed Russian mob boss Semion Mogilevich.
Offshore business: Shareholder and director (since 2007) in Group DF Limited (incorporated in 2006) in the British Virgin Islands, which became a holding company for Firtash’s interests in energy, chemicals and real estate.
Details: Son of Chaudry Pervez Elahi, who until last month was Pakistan's deputy prime minister. The Chaudry family has had a powerful role in the country’s politics for the past five decades. In 2010, Moonis Elahi was accused of receiving illicit payments as part of an alleged land scam. He was later acquitted amidst what Pakistan's Supreme Court said was intense government interference in the investigation.
Offshore business: Shareholder and director of Olive Groves Assets Ltd. (2006) in the British Virgin Islands.
Hassan Mohammed and Fady Mohammed JameelHassan Mohammed and Fady Mohammed Jameel
Details: Sons of one of the richest men in Saudi Arabia and executives in Abdul Latif Jameel Group, one of the world’s largest Toyota dealers, with operations in the Middle East, UK, Central Asia and China.
Offshore business: Directors (2002-2003) of Costa Azzoura Limited (incorporated in 2002) and directors (2004-2009) of Hillbeck Limited (incorporated in 2004) in the British Virgin Islands. Hassan was also shareholder of Hillbeck Limited (since 2004).
Mirzan Bin Mahathir
Details: Son of Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the longest-serving prime minister of Malaysia (1981-2003), who modernized the country under an autocratic rule. Mahathir Mohamad was accused of abusing his extensive political powers to enrich his family and key business associates. Mirzan is a prominent entrepreneur, with directorships in various companies in Malaysia and internationally.
Offshore business: Shareholder and director of Utara Capital Limited (1997), Crescent Energy Limited (2003), and Al Sadd Investments Pte. Ltd. (2009) in Labuan.
Details: Former head of information security at Telecom Italia, arrested in 2007 for leading a unit that illegally obtained data of 4,000 people, including politicians and journalists. In 2012 the Supreme Court of Cassation confirmed his 2010 plea bargain and his sentence of 3 years and 4 months in prison.
Offshore business: Owner of Constant Surge Investments Ltd (2006) in the British Virgin Islands.
Comment: Fabio Ghioni denied being the owner of Constant Surge Invesments Ltd. “The BVI? I don't know where they are located!" he said on the phone. ICIJ verified Ghioni’s connection to the BVI firm through the address he used upon incorporation of the company which is that of his personal residence in Milan. The corporate files also include annotations describing Ghioni’s occupation at the time.
Clarice, Leo and Fabio Steinbruch
Details: Members of one of Brazil's richest families, which owns large steel and textile companies and a bank.
Offshore business: Shareholders and directors of Peak Management Inc. (2007) in the British Virgin Islands.
Details: His family co-owns Alfa, a conglomerate with interests in oil, food and telecommunications.
Offshore business: Shareholder of Vercors Private Limited (2005) in Singapore.
Details: CEO of the retail conglomerate Jumbo SA, one of Greece’s largest companies.
Offshore business: Shareholder of Karpathia Ltd. (2007) in the British Virgin Islands. Company transferred to another offshore service provider in 2009.
The Shoman familySuha, Omar and Aysha Shoman
Widow and children of one of Jordan’s richest families
Details: The family’s father, Khalid Shoman, was — until his death in 2001 — vice-chairman of the Arab Bank Group, one of the main banks in the Arab world, founded by his father. Omar sold their share of the bank for about $375 million in 2003.
Offshore business: Omar and Aysha are shareholders — jointly or on their own — of 12 companies in the British Virgin Islands, including OS Investments Inc. (2002), OAKS Inc. (2003), Fisch Investments Inc. (2005) and OS Tech Inc. (2006). Their mother is connected with two of the firms as a shareholder and one as a director. Most entities were transferred to another offshore service provider between 2007 and 2009.
Mehbub Yusufali Manji
Details: The Manji family is one of the richest in Tanzania. It started Quality Group Limited, the country’s major conglomerate with interests ranging from automotive to food processing.
Offshore business: Director and shareholder of Intertrade Commercial Services Inc. (2007-2009) in the British Virgin Islands.
Details: In December 2011, he was accused of criminal conspiracy by India's principal anti-corruption enforcement agency, the Central Bureau of Investigation. The accusation relates to a broader investigation of politicians, government officials and telecom executives in India for alleged irregularities in the award of cell phone frequencies to telephone companies. Ruia’s firm is disputing the charges made against him and others.
Offshore business: Shareholder in one firm in the British Virgin Islands, Orion Worldwide Universal Corporation (2008). His daughter, Smiti, is a shareholder in two others. One of Ruia's flagship companies, Essar Power, has further BVI entities that are named in the ICIJ documents.
ICIJ found 612 Indians but that evaded taxes by setting up companies in tax havens.
The report includes two members of Parliament —
Lok Sabha Congress MP Vivekanand Gaddam
and Rajya Sabha member Vijay Mallya — and several industrialists.
details of persons and companies from India have not been made public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)
Former tennis star David Lloyd among UK citizens who used offshore companies to buy high-end properties on island of Phuket.
Lloyd, who set up a profitable chain of UK gyms on retiring from sport, says the reason for his two BVI entities, Rise Bright Development and High Joy Group, was not tax avoidance. It was to circumvent Thai laws on land ownership.
Company: Rise Bright Development, High Joy Group, David Lloyd Asia Co
Story: Tennis star turns property developer in Thailand
Details: Lloyd (born 1948) was Davis Cup captain and formerly coached Tim Henman. He built up a chain of gyms in the UK, sold out and then took up resort development on the island of Phuket in Thailand. He is developing luxury villas at Cape Sawan, to sell between £2-£5m and set up BVI ownership entities 2007-8.
Intermediary: Limcharoen, Hughes & Glanville, Bangkok
One purchaser, Chris Sharp, a retired London shop-owner, told us he had been advised that his BVI company would also allow him to avoid Thai capital gains tax if he sold the Phuket villa on.
Company: Charm Nice Group
Story: Retired London shop-owner purchases villa on Phuket
Details: Sharp (born 1947) listed as retired, . Co incorporated 1.11.2007. UK flat in Campana Court Blenheim Road Barnet, Hertfordshire, EN5 4NG subsequently sold for £292k in 2009.
Intermediary: Limcharoen, Hughes & Glanville
Another Thai villa owner is Ian Brimecome, the chairman of the Equitable Life insurance company. He and his wife Charlotte used an entity called Fortune Green Holdings in the BVI to buy a holiday home after visiting Phuket in 2007.
Ian & Charlotte Brimecome
Company: Fortune Green Holdings
Story: Chairman of Equitable Life uses offshore entity to buy Phuket villa
Details: Brimecome, who has a £2m home in Pirbright, Surrey, joined the board of two big insurers, Equitable Life and Axa in 2007. The same year the Brimecomes visited Phuket, the Thai beach resort, to buy a villa. The BVI company to own it was set up through a local law firm.
Intermediary: Limcharoen Hughes & Glanville, Bangkok
Company: Kinetic Country Group
Story: Retired clothing wholesaler buys Phuket villa
Details: BVI company was incorporated in July 2005, to buy a villa at the Cape Yamu development in Phuket, with pools and gyms, developed by Irishman Peter Hamilton. At retirement from his firm, Smith & Brooks, Matthews owned £3m house in Buckinghamshire
Intermediary: Campbell Kane, Phuket developers
Company: Add Merit Group
Story: Expatriate Scottish engineer buys Thai villa
Details: Macareavey (born 1970), from Fairfield Way, Aberdeen AB11 7SQ, UK, bought offshore company in 2007, whilst in Malaysia. Formerly director of MTM Process Engineering Ltd in UK.
Intermediary: Limcharoen, Hughes & Glanville
ICIJ Next Expose will be on April 15, as part of the first round that began on April 3, while further rounds would continue throughout the year.
Source – ICIJ
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Sunday, April 07, 2013
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