In the fourth collaborative investigation into offshore and banking assets, in this instance called The Paradise Papers, undertaken by The Indian Express in collaboration with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a number of revelations have come out. The investigation yielded the India list after 10 months of sifting through this data. What has been revealed is data of global offshore firms and 19 tax havens that aid the wealthy from India and elsewhere to transfer their money to foreign lands. The paper will publish the findings in a series of over 40 investigative reports – a similar investigation had earlier been carried out in the Panama Papers case.
This cache of 13.4 million documents named Paradise Papers tumbled out almost 18 months after Panama Papers. German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung obtained both sets of data and this was probed by the ICIJ working in partnership with 96 newsgroups.
Most of the leaked data investigated is from Bermuda law firm Appleby. This firm is a leading member of the global network of lawyers, accountants, bankers and other operatives who set up offshore companies and manage bank accounts for clients including real estate assets; evade taxes; purchase airplanes, open escrow accounts and use offshore vehicles to move millions across the globe.
India ranks 19th in terms of the number of names among 180 countries represented in the data. Overal; there are 714 Indians in the tally. Interestingly, an Indian company figures as Appleby’s second-largest client worldwide, with 118 different offshore entities. Among the company’s Indian clients are a number of prominent corporates and companies which came under the scrutiny of probing agencies like CBI and the ED.
Globally, the probe exposes a Russian firm’s investments in social media sites Twitter and Facebook, ties between Russia and US President Donald Trump’s billionaire commerce secretary Wilbur Ross; secret dealings of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief fundraiser and offshore interests of the Queen of England and more than 120 political leaders, including former Pakistan Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz.