The Pandora Papers, the most ambitious investigative effort to unravel the secrets of the offshore world yet, is an awe-inspiring feat by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The numbers are staggering: 11.9 million files from 14 leading offshore services firms, pored over by more than 600 journalists from 150 publications.
We now have scores of fact-checked and compelling stories involving 35 current as well as former heads of state and more than 330 politicians worldwide drawn from every conceivable latitude and political system.
It gives us an unprecedented view of the use – by global elites – of offshore financial structures, institutions and techniques that offer secrecy, asset protection and tax exemption.
Wealthy foreigners do not want to hide their money in Africa, and wealthy Africans mostly want to get theirs out.”
This infrastructure is global. It includes tax havens such as Panama, Monaco, Switzerland and many British Overseas Territories, which have garnered bad publicity; numerous ‘onshore’ jurisdictions, such as the United States, which are revealed to be massive providers of offshore services; and Asian financial centres such as Dubai, Singapore and Hong Kong.
Advocates of offshore have long argued that the problem is its misuse. However, the Pandora Papers show that these practices are not an episodic violation of the system, but [are] the system itself.