NEWS DESK: Massive leak of secret documents in the wake of #ParadisePapers leak shows how the world’s biggest businesses and leading politicians have sheltered their wealth in tax havens. Prominent Pakistani names, such as former PM Shaukat Aziz and former National Insurance Corporation Limited chairperson Ayaz Khan Niazi, have also been in the Paradise Papers release.
— ICIJ (@ICIJorg) November 5, 2017
As with the Panama Papers, the Paradise Papers leak came through a duo of reporters at the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and was then shared with I.C.I.J., a Washington-based group that won the Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the millions of records of a Panamanian law firm. The release of that trove of documents led to the resignation of one prime minister last year and to the unmasking of the wealth of people close to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia.
Journalists from 67 countries, including India and Pakistan, have participated in the investigations and reporting of the Paradise Papers.
Leading investigative journalist Umar Cheema, who was part of the team that unearthed the Paradise Papers revelations, named Pakistanis for their involvement in offshore companies and tax evasions.
Mian Mansha, Hashwani, Feerasta family among others named. Also list of 135 Pakistanis with account in a Swiss bank https://t.co/5tnPAYSSTd
— Umar Cheema (@UmarCheema1) November 6, 2017
Mian Muhammad Mansha, the chairman of Nishat Group, Alauddin J. Feerasta, the chairman of Soneri Bank, and Sadurddin Hashwani, a leading business tycoon in hoteling and oil industry, are among the 135 Pakistani people listed for having accounts in Swiss banks.
Similarly, The Indian Express has found 714 links to Indian individuals and companies in the cache of documents. The paper has splashed the investigation all over its front page.
— Dr. Shefalii Hindu (@imShraddhaK) November 6, 2017
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the Paradise Papers are further evidence that there’s “one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest of us”.
— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) November 5, 2017
In the US, Democrats are calling for an inquiry into Wilbur Ross’s business links to Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law. Moreover, there are growing calls on Congress to launch an immediate investigation of the extent of multinational tax avoidance.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief fundraiser has also been named in the movement of millions of dollars to offshore havens. According to The Guardian, the Canadian tax authorities said they are reviewing the reports “and will take appropriate action in regards to the Paradise Papers”.
Andrew Scheer, leader of the opposition Conservative party in Canada, also addressed the reports on social media.
“Justin Trudeau’s well-connected Liberal friends get away with paying less, and you pay more,” Scheer wrote on Facebook. “There is nothing fair about that.”
A number of groups have called for multinational companies to disclose their tax affairs on a country-by-country basis, reported The Guardian. This would force transparency and help prevent the shifting of profits to low-tax jurisdictions.
Former United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan said transparency was the only way to stop large companies looting African nations.
The Tax Justice Network called for the United Nations to convene a summit of world leaders to find a way to end tax abuse and financial secrecy.
Transparency International wants greater transparency on the beneficial ownership of corporations, to prevent them from using complex and hidden structures to mask their true owners. According to Transparency International, the release shows gaping loopholes in the global financial system.
— Transparency Int’lUK (@TransparencyUK) November 5, 2017
Meanwhile, Appleby, the firm at the centre of the leak, says there is no evidence of wrongdoing. According to the firm, the allegations raised by media agencies are unfounded and display a lack of understanding about the legitimate uses of offshore structures.