Central Asia & Caucasus: E-Book Highlights Shady Offshore Practices
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the group responsible for the recent, enormous data dump exposing offshore banking practices, is making its articles available in one online location.
“Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze,” a “digital newsbook,” brings together 33 articles that paint a picture of an international financial underground set up for hiding owners of big money and, often, for protecting financial criminals. Of particular interest for Eurasianet.org’s readers are two articles focusing on Azerbaijan and Mongolia: “Offshore Companies Provide Link Between Corporate Mogul and Azerbaijan’s President;” and “Disclosure of Secret Offshore Documents May Force Top Mongolian Lawmaker to Resign.” The e-book also includes references to Kazakhstan’s Mukhtar Ablyazov and Georgia’s Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili.
The articles, many of which first appeared in news sources throughout the world, pay special attention to intermediary companies located in tax havens such as Singapore and the Virgin Islands, that set up accounts using fake - sometimes dead - straw man directors and shareholders. Companies, documents show, fail to do due diligence to find out the source of the money, and, often, encourage account holders to withhold real identities.
ICIJ received a leak of 2.5 million files, a total file size 160 times larger than the 2010 WikiLeaks dump of US State Department documents. The financial documents implicate more than 120,000 companies in 170 countries, and expose wild narratives of secret CIA operatives, Russian spies, and delegates of Saddam Hussein using the same companies and bogus “nominee directors” to conduct their business.
The compiled report estimates that between $21 and $32 trillion in private funds is currently hidden in offshore havens, “roughly equivalent to the size of US and Japanese economies combined,” the authors of the report note.