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Investigation reveals who hides behind offshore companies

04 April 2013 / 17:04:49  GRReporter
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Prominent politicians and members of the international business elite hide their money in tax havens under the cover of offshore companies. The list is the result of the largest investigation of the secret world of offshore companies, which was carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and involved 160 media representatives from 60 countries.

The aim of the investigation was to reveal the owners of offshore companies. The 2.5 million secret folders are practically the largest amount of data that has ever reached such a journalistic organization.

It turns out that more than 107 of the offshore companies belong to Greeks and that their headquarters are on the British Virgin Islands in the Caribbean Sea. There are 500,000 offshore companies functioning on the islands, primarily as post boxes. Their number is equal to almost 40% of all such firms worldwide. From 1984 to date, over one million offshore companies that guarantee absolute anonymity of their owners have been registered there.
 
At the same time, according to an article in the British edition of Vanity Fair magazine, a very large part of luxury properties in London's most expensive neighbourhoods have been bought by offshore companies owned by Greeks. These are extremely expensive and modern flats whose windows remain dark at night because nobody buys them in order to live in them.

The author of the article, Nicholas Shaxson, writes that the phenomenon began in the 1960s when the abolition of the monarchy in Greece brought many Greeks with significant assets to London. He points out that the Greeks as well as the British are among the most invisible owners of offshore companies, simply because they do not show off their money or lifestyle.

Photo: vanityfair.com

In addition to the 120,000 offshore companies, bank accounts and other shady affairs, the journalistic investigation reveals the names of 130,000 people who keep their money in tax havens. According to the list, which the British newspaper The Guardian has published, former and present politicians appear among the individual persons:

- Jean-Jacques Augier - campaign treasurer of François Hollande during the presidential campaign in France in 2012.

- Bayartsogt Sangajav - former finance minister of Mongolia. As shown by the data of the investigation, he set up the offshore company Legend Plus Capital Ltd through a Swiss bank account while he was finance minister in the period from 2008 to 2012. Today, he says that his decision not to declare the company was wrong and that he probably should consider resigning from his position.

- The President of Azerbaijan and his family. The offshore companies set up in the names of President Ilhan Aliyev and his two daughters are controlled by the biggest businessman in the country, Hassan Gozal.

- Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov’s wife, Olga Shuvalova.

- The husband of a Canadian deputy. Lawyer Tony Merchant deposited more than 800,000 dollars in an offshore company and paid the bank charges in cash, ordering all written communications "to be kept to a minimum."

- Filipino dictator's daughter Maria Imelda Marcos Manotoc.

- Baroness Carmen Thyssen - Bornemisza, who is the fifth and last wife of Baron Heinrich von Thyssen - Bornemisza. The former model is the richest collector of works of art in Spain.

- Oil billionaire Marc Rich’s ex-wife, Denise Rich. Recently, he had legal troubles related to his business activity in the United States.

- Millionaire Scott Young, who was a collaborator of the recently murdered Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, is now in prison for concealing the property of his ex-wife.

- Greek shipping tycoon Achileas Kalakis who is in prison because he used data of fake companies owned by him and located on the British Virgin Islands to take loans amounting to 750 million pounds from British and Irish banks.

Tags: Companiesoffshore companiesBritish Virgin IslandsInternational Consortium of Investigative Journalists
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