On Monday, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published an online database from the ‘Panama Papers’ trove on more than 200,000 secret offshore companies. Basically, Panama Papers are 11.5 million leaked documents that detail financial and attorney–client information for secret or shell offshore entities. The leaked documents were created by Panamanian law firm and corporate service provider Mossack Fonseca.
They contain basic corporate information about companies, trusts and foundations set up in 21 jurisdictions including Hong Kong and the US state of Nevada.
As expected, it created a havoc since it contained names of the who’s who and big shots from Business, Sports, Politics and Film making industry.
According to ICIJ it is publishing some of the information catalogued in a database “in the public interest,” as a global movement against tax evasion and the secrecy accorded the beneficial owners of anonymous shell companies gains force.
Although setting up offshore companies in itself is not illegal if it done by following all the standards however, anti-poverty campaigners say that these “shell companies” were used by the wealthy and powerful to shield money from taxation, or to launder the gains from bribery, embezzlement and other forms of corruption.
Some of the after reactions of this leaked data includes:
- Iceland’s Gunnlaugsson was forced to resign when his name was linked to an offshore company.
- Britain’s Cameron ended up admitting he profited from an offshore firm started by his father.
- China censored media and online social networks from mentioning links between the families of Chinese leaders with offshore entities.
- Putin’s closest circle was named in the revelations, prompting the Russian leader to claim the Panama Papers was a US plot against him.
Cases reported from India:
- Names such as Amitabh Bachchan, Ajay Devgan to CEOs of HSBC, to DLF Ltd owner KP Singh have been included in the list.
- Supreme Court has even issued a notice to sought an investigation against the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) chief as well as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the finance ministry
- They have to reply within four weeks to the SC.
The report issued by ICIJ also says that “Mossack Fonseca’s working relationships with dozens of Americans tied to financial misconduct raises questions about how well the firm keeps its commitment to following international standards for preventing money laundering and keeping offshore companies out of the hands of criminal elements.”
Well, now that this data is publicly available – the govt and concerned authorities should do a complete in & out probe for a complete Justice!