2013年4月12日金曜日

ICIJ Offshore Bank Accounts

租税回避地のオフショア取引の口座名が告発された。
  英領バージン諸島、ケイマン諸島などに登記された12万を超える数の
企業やファンドに関する膨大なファイルを入手したのは、ICIJ。
 ジェームズ・ヘンリー氏らの見積りでは、世界中の大金持ちがタックス
ヘイブンに保有する金融資産の総額は少なくとも21兆ドル。多くの場合は
合法的な国際取引に利用されるが、脱税や粉飾決算、資金洗浄の温床と
なっているとの批判が根強い。

オフショア取引秘密口座
・詳細は4月15日発表予定
・対象は英領ヴァージン諸島,クック諸島,香港,シンガポール,ケイマン諸島,
 リヒテンシュタイン等租税回避地。
・発覚名義
 Olga Shuvalova(露第一副首相Igor Shuvalovの妻)
 ガスプロム部長二名(露)
 Gunter Sachs(独カメラマン)
 Carmen Thyssen男爵夫人(スペイン芸術コレクタ)
 Denise Rich(米国グラミー賞受賞歌手。Marc Richの元妻)
 James R. Mellon(Gulf OilとMellon Bank創業一族)
  Francois Hollande(仏大統領。選挙資金を捻出)
 Maria Imelda Marcos(元フィリピン大統領の娘)
 Bayartsogt Sangajav(モンゴルの前蔵相)
 4,000人の有名人や医者、歯科医(米国)
 官僚とその家族(アゼルバイジャン,露,パキスタン,フィリピン,タイ,
         加,モンゴル)
・国籍
 アルゼンチン,アルメニア,豪州,アゼルバイジャン,ベルギー,ブラジル,
 ブルガリア,加,チリ,コロンビア,コスタリカ,クロアチア,デンマーク,
 フィンランド,仏,グルジア,独,ギリシャ,印,アイルランド,伊,日本,
 コソボ,ラトビア,メキシコ,モルドバ,蘭,ニュージーランド,ナイジェリア,
 ノルウェイ,パキスタン,パラグアイ,フィリピン,ルーマニア,露,セルビア,
 シンガポール,南アフリカ,スペイン,スリランカ,スウェーデン,スイス,
 タイ,ウクライナ,英国,米国,ベネズエラ。

仮釈放になったヘイザエモンらが、ライブドア事件で度々、租税回避地を利用
していたことは有名な話。AIJも同様。
オリンパス粉飾決算の協力者らの取引記録もあるようだ。
今回告発された秘密口座は、2002-2009年とのことだから、租税回避地を利用
していた会社や人はどれくらい見つかるだろうか。

租税回避地ブラックリスト公表決定
遺体の闇市場
租税回避地資産 最大2500兆円
米共和党議員 オバマを支援
富裕層2012
AIJ子会社 海外資産保有


Unsafe Haven: Trillions of offshore cash leaked, exposing rich & mighty


---タックスヘイブンの秘密資料入手 世界の金持ちの名続々---
2013年4月4日21時14分
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0404/TKY201304040323.html

  カリブ海に浮かぶ島々は、タックスヘイブン(租税回避地)として知られ、節税やマネーロンダリング(資金洗浄)目的の巨額の資金が世界中から流れ込んでいる。ベールに包まれてきた取引。その実態を明らかにする250万もの秘密の電子ファイルが報道機関の手に渡った。その中には、フィリピンの故・マルコス大統領の娘や、ロシア副首相の妻、オリンパス粉飾決算の協力者らの取引記録がある。
 英領バージン諸島、ケイマン諸島などに登記された12万を超える数の企業やファンドに関する膨大なファイルを入手したのは、米国ワシントンDCに本拠を置く非営利の報道機関「国際調査報道ジャーナリスト連合」(ICIJ)。朝日新聞を含む各国の報道機関とともに半年以上をかけて分析を進めている。
 タックスヘイブンは、法人税や所得税などの税率がゼロか極めて低い国や地域。低税率や秘密保持を売りにして、国外資本の会社やファンドの設立を促して資金を呼び込んでいる。
 経営コンサルティング会社「マッキンゼー」の元チーフエコノミストであるジェームズ・ヘンリー氏らの見積もりでは、世界中の大金持ちがタックスヘイブンに保有する金融資産の総額は少なくとも21兆ドル(約2千兆円)。多くの場合は合法的な国際取引に利用されるが、脱税や粉飾決算、資金洗浄の温床となっているとの批判が根強い。企業情報がほとんど公表されず、カネの流れが見えづらいため、日本や欧米の国税当局も手を焼いているのが実情だ。


--- Wealth in Tax Havens of Companies and Individuals Revealed---
By Ali Mohsin | April 4, 2013
http://www.dailypressdot.com/wealth-in-tax-havens-of-companies-and-individuals-revealed/758737/

An international association of journalists registered in the U.S. reveals secret offshore accounts of 120,000 companies and nearly 130,000 people, exposing hidden affairs of politicians, artists and rich people from over 170 countries.

A number of 86 journalists from 46 countries participated in the investigation coordinated by The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the largest cross-border journalistic collaboration ever, the association said in a statement. The information was obtained by ICIJ from 2.5 million digital files.

The report by ICIJ, part of the Center for Public Integrity based in Washington, DC, and its partner networks around the world is first in a series of reports to be revealed by April 15, with other information to be made public during the year, as the investigation progresses.

Files identify those behind companies and private trusts registered in the British Virgin Islands, Cook Islands, Singapore and other tax havens.

Among these people are doctors and dentists in the U.S., Greek middle class, corporate executives from Russia, Eastern Europe and billionaires in Indonesia, Wall Street traders, international arms dealers and families or associates of dictators.

Documents show the facts and data, transfers of money and connections between companies and individuals, and the worldwide expansion of offshore financial secrecy that allowed the rich and well connected to circumvent the tax authorities, fueling corruption in developed and poor countries.

However, it is the most confidential information ever obtained by a media organization. The total size of files measured in gigabytes, is over 160 times greater than the data leaked from the State Department obtained by Wikileaks in 2010.

In analyzing documents, ICIJ reporters collaborated with The Guardian and the BBC, Le Monde, Norddeutscher Rundfunk Suddeutsche Zeitung, the Washington Post, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and 31 other media partners worldwide.

During the research hundreds of experts were interviewed, government officials, lawyers, offshore clients and other sources around the world.

Among those mentioned in the report are Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov’s wife and two directors of Gazprom, which according to the documents have interests in companies in the British Virgin Islands. All three declined to comment.

Documents show how mega-rich are using complex offshore structures to hold property, artwork and other goods, while enjoying tax benefits that are not within the reach of ordinary people.

Spanish Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza uses a Cook Islands company to acquire works of art at Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions. Among the 4,000 Americans is Denise Rich, a Grammy-nominated songwriter whose ex-husband was in the center of a pardon scandal, just before the end of President Bill Clinton’s term in office. Another prominent name in the U.S. is James R. Mellon, whose family founded the company known as Gulf Oil and Mellon Bank. He used four companies in the British Virgin Islands and Liechtenstein for trading financial instruments and the transfer of tens of millions of dollars between offshore accounts.

The main conclusions of the investigation are that government officials, their families and associates of Azerbaijan, Russia, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Canada, Mongolia and other countries use companies and hidden bank accounts. Super-rich resort to complex offshore structures to hold properties, yachts, artwork and other assets for tax advantages.

Many of the world’s largest banks, including UBS, Deutsche Bank and Clariden have worked aggressively to provide customers hidden businesses in the British Virgin Islands and other tax havens.

An entire industry of accountants, brokers and other well-paid employees was developed to conceal assets and business interests, covering money laundering and other illegal activities.

Also, pyramid and other major fraud schemes commonly use tax havens for registration and transfer of illegal gains.

The list of countries includes, in alphabetical order, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland , Italy, Japan, Kosovo, Latvia, Malarezia, Mexico, Moldova, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Paraguay, Philippines, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland , Thailand, Ukraine, United Kingdom, USA and Venezuela.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is an international network of reporters who collaborate on investigative articles. It was founded in 1997 by the Center for Public Integrity in the United States to focus on issues that transcend national borders. With 160 members in over 60 countries, ICIJ focuses on cross-border crime and corruption.


---Data Leak Shakes Notion of Secret Offshore Havens and, Possibly, Nerves---
By ANDREW HIGGINS
Published: April 4, 2013
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/05/world/europe/vast-hidden-wealth-revealed-in-leaked-records.html?_r=0

BRUSSELS - They are a large and diverse group that includes a Spanish heiress; the daughter of the former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos; and Denise Rich, the former wife of the disgraced trader Marc Rich, who was pardoned by President Bill Clinton. But, according to a trove of secret financial information released Thursday, all have money and share a desire to hide it.

 And, it seems safe to say, they - and thousands of others in Europe and far beyond, in places like Mongolia - are suddenly very anxious after the leak of 2.5 million files detailing the offshore bank accounts and shell companies of wealthy individuals and tax-averse companies.

“There will be people all over the world today who are now scared witless,” said Richard Murphy, research director for Tax Justice Network, a British-based organization that has long campaigned to end the secrecy that surrounds assets held in offshore havens. The leaked files include the names of 4,000 Americans, celebrities as well as more mundane doctors and dentists.

It is not the first time leaks have dented a thick carapace of confidentiality that usually protects the identities of those who stash money in the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein and other havens. Nor, in most cases, is keeping money in such places illegal.

But the enormous size of the data dump obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a Washington-based group that, along with affiliated news media organizations, announced its coup on Thursday, has punched a big hole in the secrecy that surrounds what the Tax Justice Network estimates are assets worth at least $21 trillion held in offshore havens. “This could be a game-changer,” said Mr. Murphy, the author of a book about offshore tax shelters. “Secrecy is the key product these places sell. Whether you are a criminal laundering money or just someone trying to evade or avoid taxes, secrecy is the one thing you want.” Once this is gone, he added, “it creates an enormous fear factor” and has a “massive deterrent effect.”

And lifting the curtain on the identities of those who keep their money offshore is likely to cause particular anger in austerity-blighted Europe, where governments have been telling people to tighten their belts but have mostly turned a blind eye to wealthier citizens who skirt taxes with help from so-called offshore financial centers.

The leaked records, mainly from the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and Singapore, disclose proprietary information about more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts and nearly 130,000 individuals and agents, including the wealthiest people in more than 170 countries. Not all of those named necessarily have secret bank accounts, and in some cases only conducted business through companies they control that are registered offshore.

The embarrassment caused by Thursday’s revelations has been particularly acute in France, where the Socialist president, Francois Hollande, who wants to impose a 75 percent tax on millionaires, has been struggling to contain a political firestorm touched off this week by a former budget minister’s admission - after months of denials - that he had secret foreign bank accounts.

The scandal looked set to widen on Thursday as senior members of the government were forced to confront allegations that Mr. Hollande and others may have been aware that the budget minister, Jerome Cahuzac, who resigned on March 19, was lying but failed to act.

Adding to the president’s trouble, the name of a close friend and treasurer of his 2012 election campaign, Jean-Jacques Augier, appeared in connection with the files released Thursday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Mr. Augier, according to the newspaper Le Monde, was identified as an investor in offshore businesses in the Cayman Islands, another well-known tax haven.

Mr. Augier, a friend of Mr. Hollande’s, denied to Le Monde and Agence France-Presse that he had done anything illegal or improper. He said he had invested in funds that invested in China, and that he had no personal bank account in the Cayman Islands or any direct personal investment there. He conceded only that “maybe I lacked a bit of caution.”

Others identified included Maria Imelda Marcos Manotoc, a provincial governor and eldest daughter of the former Philippine president; Olga Shuvalova, the wife of Russia’s deputy prime minister, Igor Shuvalov; Gunter Sachs, a German playboy and photographer who committed suicide in May 2011 at age 78; and Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, Spain’s wealthiest art collector and the widow of a Thyssen steel company billionaire. The president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and his wife, Mehriban, were featured in the documents as having set up an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands, while their two daughters appeared in connection with three other offshore outfits.

The consortium did not specify how it got the information or where it came from. On its Web site, the group said “the leaked files provide facts and figures - cash transfers, incorporation dates, links between companies and individuals - that illustrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread aggressively around the globe, allowing the wealthy and the well connected to dodge taxes and fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations alike.”

In Germany, now gearing up for national elections in September and a country with both a strong sense of social justice and a long history of tax evaders sneaking money into nearby Switzerland, politicians expressed concern, even outrage, over the disclosures. Of particular concern were indications that big banks in Germany and elsewhere are deeply involved in moving money beyond the reach of tax authorities.

 “We should introduce tougher penalties for those financial institutions that are ideal for tax fraud or take part in it,” Peer Steinbruck, the Social Democratic Party’s candidate for chancellor, was quoted as saying in the daily newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung.

The issue of tax avoidance has become a highly charged issue across much of Europe, particularly in richer northern countries that are increasingly fed up with demands for bailout money from heavily indebted countries like Greece. A key demand of a recent bailout deal announced for Cyprus was that the nation drastically shrink its role as a financial center and, many in Germany suspect, a haven for money laundering.

Robert Palmer, a policy adviser for Global Witness, a London research group that focuses on corruption, said the naming of offshore account holders could have powerful political reverberations across Europe because “it shows that if you are wealthy and well connected you play by different rules.”

He said the information released so far did not shed any new light on how offshore finance works but was still significant because it identified people who used hidden shelters.

“This is very unusual because it is so difficult to get any information out of these places,” he said. “It adds to the picture of how easy it is to move money around and will build up the anger of people who are being asked to make cuts but see that there are people out there who benefit hugely from the system.”

The disclosure of offshore financial information is also a potential embarrassment for Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, in that much of the data released so far related to the British Virgin Islands, a British-ruled territory in the Caribbean.

Mr. Cameron had earlier spoken about the importance of tax and financial transparency and pledged to make it a priority issue at a meeting of the leaders of the Group of 8 advanced industrial nations in Northern Ireland in June.

The British Caribbean territory, however, is notoriously secretive and, Mr. Palmer said, one of the most egregious offenders in enabling wealthy people to hide their money to avoid taxes.

In a statement issued Thursday, Global Witness called on Mr. Cameron and fellow Group of 8 leaders to “crack down on anonymous company ownership.”


---Massive offshore tax haven file leaks expose secrets of the rich---
Like this article35
By JohnThomas Didymus   
Apr 4, 2013
http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/347223

A massive leak of records of the global offshore financial system has revealed financial secrets relating to more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts and exposed secret dealings of politicians, international fraudsters and the world's rich.
The records, a cache of 2.5 million files, obtained by a non-profit organization, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a global network of journalists in more than 60 countries, reveal the identities of individuals behind covert companies, shady businesses and private trusts in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and other offshore locations where the world's rich and politically influential stash their wealth in sworn secrecy.
ICIJ.org reports that the records cover details of previously secret financial transactions of people and companies in more than 170 countries and territories of the world. The documents represent the biggest cache ever of inside information about the global offshore system ever obtained.
According to ICIJ.org, the names revealed include a medley of people of diverse backgrounds, including American professionals, relatives and friends of African and Asian despots, Wall Street swindlers, Eastern European, Russian, Asian billionaires and global arms dealers.
The leaked files lay bare for the first time the extent to which financial institutions that provide financial secrecy have been able to help wealthy and influential people to dodge taxes, facilitate official corruption especially in poor developing economies and exacerbate the widening gap between the poor and rich of the world.
ICIJ worked in collaboration with 86 journalists from 46 countries. Media firms involved in the collaborative effort included The Guardian and the BBC in the UK; Le Monde in France, Suddeutsche Zeitung and Norddeutscher Rundfunk in Germany; The Washington Post, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) and 31 other media partners around the world.
The journalists sifted through a formidable mass of information contained in emails and accounting records accumulated over a period of 30 years.
Arthur Cockfied, law professor and tax expert at Queens University in Canada, who saw some of the documents, said in an interview with the CBC: "I've never seen anything like this. This secret world has finally been revealed." According to Cockfield, the documents were reminiscent of the classic movie The Wizard of Oz, in which "they pull back the curtain and you see the wizard operating this secret machine."
The global impact of offshore secrecy
The massive flow of global wealth obtained both legally and illegally to a restricted circle of privileged service providers who guarantee secrecy for their clients continues to impact adversely on the world's economies.
One of the major arguments against offshore secrecy is that it promotes global corruption, and provides a means for the wealthy to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, thus increasing the burden of taxation on ordinary people. According to ICIJ.org, studies have estimated that the flows of global proceeds of financial crimes to offshore havens total up $1.6 trillion a year.
ICIJ's investigation found that secrecy offered by the offshore financial services facilitates fraud, tax dodging, corruption and global financial crimes. According to experts the offshore industry provides opportunities for crooked officials to loot national treasuries and provide cover for global crime syndicates.
The anonymity of the offshore accounts makes it very difficult for authorities to keep a tab on the flow of funds. According to ICIJ.org, a study by James S. Henry, former chief economist at McKinsey & Company, and board member of the Tax Justice Network, estimates that private wealth amounting to about 21 trillion to $32 trillion, stashed away in offshore havens, is roughly equivalent to the size of the US and Japanese economies combined.
Henry reports that while European and US economies run into stormy waters, offshore funds continue to grow. According to Henry, assets managed by the world’s 50 largest "private banks" which provide access to offshore financial services for their high net-worth clients, grew from $5.4 trillion in 2005 to more than $12 trillion in 2010.
ICIJ’s report focused on two of the most successful offshore firms, the Singapore-based Portcullis TrustNet and British Virgin Islands-based Commonwealth Trust Limited (CTL), who help their clients to set up offshore companies, trusts and bank accounts that are difficult to trace.
BVI regulators, for instance, found that on several occasions between 2003 and 2008, CTL violated the islands' anti-money-laundering laws. The company often failed to take care to verify its client's identity and background.
ICIJ’s investigation of TrustNet documents found about 30 American clients who have been accused in lawsuits, including criminal cases of fraud, money laundering and other serious financial crimes. According to ICIJ, the individuals include Paul Bilzerian, who was convicted of tax fraud and securities violations in 1989; Raj Rajaratnam, a billionaire hedge fund manager jailed in 2011 for involvement in one of the biggest insider trading scandals in US history.
The records also show the methods offshore financial services providers and their clients employ to hide funds through multi-layered global structures consisting of multiple companies, foundations and financial products. According to ICIJ.org:
"When they (TrustNet) create companies for their clients, offshore services firms often appoint faux directors and shareholders - proxies who serve as stand-ins when the real owners of companies don’t want their identities known. Thanks to the proliferation of proxy directors and shareholders, investigators tracking money laundering and other crimes often hit dead ends when they try to uncover who is really behind offshore companies.
An analysis by ICIJ.org, the BBC and The Guardian identified a cluster of 28 "sham directors" who served as the on-paper representatives of more than 21,000 companies between them, with individual directors representing as many 4,000 companies each."
Offshore owners exposed
The Guardian identifies "an extraordinary array" of government officials and rich families from countries including Canada, the US, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, China, Thailand and former communist states.
According to The Guardian, the data its reporter saw was related mainly to offshore holdings in the British Virgin Islands. Offshore owners identified include:
"Jean-Jacques Augier, Francois Hollande's 2012 election campaign co-treasurer, launched a Caymans-based distributor in China with a 25% partner in a BVI company. Augier says his partner was Xi Shu, a Chinese businessman.
Mongolia's former finance minister, Bayartsogt Sangajav set up "Legend Plus Capital Ltd" with a Swiss bank account, while he served as finance minister of the impoverished state from 2008 to 2012. He says it was "a mistake" not to declare it, and says "I probably should consider resigning from my position".
The president of Azerbaijan and his family. A local construction magnate, Hassan Gozal, controls entities set up in the names of President Ilham Aliyev's two daughters.
The wife of Russia's deputy prime minister. Olga Shuvalova's husband, businessman and politician Igor Shuvalov, has denied allegations of wrongdoing about her offshore interests.
A senator's husband in Canada. Lawyer Tony Merchant deposited more than US$800,000 into an offshore trust.He paid fees in cash and ordered written communication to be "kept to a minimum".
A dictator's child in the Philippines: Maria Imelda Marcos Manotoc, a provincial governor, is the eldest daughter of former President Ferdinand Marcos, notorious for corruption.
Spain's wealthiest art collector, Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, a former beauty queen and widow of a Thyssen steel billionaire, who uses offshore entities to buy pictures.
US: Offshore clients include Denise Rich, ex-wife of notorious oil trader Marc Rich, who was controversially pardoned by President Clinton on tax evasion charges. She put $144m into the Dry Trust, set up in the Cook Islands."
It is estimated that more than $20tn could lie in offshore accounts.


---Leaks reveal secrets of the rich who hide cash offshore---
David Leigh   
The Guardian, Wednesday 3 April 2013 23.59 BST   
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2013/apr/03/offshore-secrets-offshore-tax-haven

Exclusive: Offshore financial industry leak exposes identities of 1,000s of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world

Millions of internal records have leaked from Britain's offshore financial industry, exposing for the first time the identities of thousands of holders of anonymous wealth from around the world, from presidents to plutocrats, the daughter of a notorious dictator and a British millionaire accused of concealing assets from his ex-wife.

The leak of 2m emails and other documents, mainly from the offshore haven of the British Virgin Islands (BVI), has the potential to cause a seismic shock worldwide to the booming offshore trade, with a former chief economist at McKinsey estimating that wealthy individuals may have as much as $32tn (L21tn) stashed in overseas havens.

In France, Jean-Jacques Augier, President Francois Hollande's campaign co-treasurer and close friend, has been forced to publicly identify his Chinese business partner. It emerges as Hollande is mired in financial scandal because his former budget minister concealed a Swiss bank account for 20 years and repeatedly lied about it.

In Mongolia, the country's former finance minister and deputy speaker of its parliament says he may have to resign from politics as a result of this investigation.

But the two can now be named for the first time because of their use of companies in offshore havens, particularly in the British Virgin Islands, where owners' identities normally remain secret.

The names have been unearthed in a novel project by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists [ICIJ], in collaboration with the Guardian and other international media, who are jointly publishing their research results this week.

The naming project may be extremely damaging for confidence among the world's wealthiest people, no longer certain that the size of their fortunes remains hidden from governments and from their neighbours.

BVI's clients include Scot Young, a millionaire associate of deceased oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Dundee-born Young is in jail for contempt of court for concealing assets from his ex-wife.

Young's lawyer, to whom he signed over power of attorney, appears to control interests in a BVI company that owns a potentially lucrative Moscow development with a value estimated at $100m.

Another is jailed fraudster Achilleas Kallakis. He used fake BVI companies to obtain a record-breaking L750m in property loans from reckless British and Irish banks.

As well as Britons hiding wealth offshore, an extraordinary array of government officials and rich families across the world are identified, from Canada, the US, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Iran, China, Thailand and former communist states.

The data seen by the Guardian shows that their secret companies are based mainly in the British Virgin Islands.

Sample offshore owners named in the leaked files include:

* Jean-Jacques Augier, Francois Hollande's 2012 election campaign co-treasurer, launched a Caymans-based distributor in China with a 25% partner in a BVI company. Augier says his partner was Xi Shu, a Chinese businessman.

* Mongolia's former finance minister. Bayartsogt Sangajav set up "Legend Plus Capital Ltd" with a Swiss bank account, while he served as finance minister of the impoverished state from 2008 to 2012. He says it was "a mistake" not to declare it, and says "I probably should consider resigning from my position".

* The president of Azerbaijan and his family. A local construction magnate, Hassan Gozal, controls entities set up in the names of President Ilham Aliyev's two daughters.

* The wife of Russia's deputy prime minister. Olga Shuvalova's husband, businessman and politician Igor Shuvalov, has denied allegations of wrongdoing about her offshore interests.

*A senator's husband in Canada. Lawyer Tony Merchant deposited more than US$800,000 into an offshore trust.

He paid fees in cash and ordered written communication to be "kept to a minimum".

* A dictator's child in the Philippines: Maria Imelda Marcos Manotoc, a provincial governor, is the eldest daughter of former President Ferdinand Marcos, notorious for corruption.

* Spain's wealthiest art collector, Baroness Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza, a former beauty queen and widow of a Thyssen steel billionaire, who uses offshore entities to buy pictures.

* US: Offshore clients include Denise Rich, ex-wife of notorious oil trader Marc Rich, who was controversially pardoned by President Clinton on tax evasion charges. She put $144m into the Dry Trust, set up in the Cook Islands.

It is estimated that more than $20tn acquired by wealthy individuals could lie in offshore accounts. The UK-controlled BVI has been the most successful among the mushrooming secrecy havens that cater for them.

The Caribbean micro-state has incorporated more than a million such offshore entities since it began marketing itself worldwide in the 1980s. Owners' true identities are never revealed.

Even the island's official financial regulators normally have no idea who is behind them.

The British Foreign Office depends on the BVI's company licensing revenue to subsidise this residual outpost of empire, while lawyers and accountants in the City of London benefit from a lucrative trade as intermediaries.

They claim the tax-free offshore companies provide legitimate privacy. Neil Smith, the financial secretary of the autonomous local administration in the BVI's capital Tortola, told the Guardian it was very inaccurate to claim the island "harbours the ethically challenged".

He said: "Our legislation provides a more hostile environment for illegality than most jurisdictions".

Smith added that in "rare instances …where the BVI was implicated in illegal activity by association or otherwise, we responded swiftly and decisively".

The Guardian and ICIJ's Offshore Secrets series last year exposed how UK property empires have been built up by, among others, Russian oligarchs, fraudsters and tax avoiders, using BVI companies behind a screen of sham directors.

Such so-called "nominees", Britons giving far-flung addresses on Nevis in the Caribbean, Dubai or the Seychelles, are simply renting out their names for the real owners to hide behind.

The whistleblowing group WikiLeaks caused a storm of controversy in 2010 when it was able to download almost two gigabytes of leaked US military and diplomatic files.

The new BVI data, by contrast, contains more than 200 gigabytes, covering more than a decade of financial information about the global transactions of BVI private incorporation agencies. It also includes data on their offshoots in Singapore, Hong Kong and the Cook Islands in the Pacific.

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