As the fallout from the massive leak of secret files from a Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca dubbed the Panama Papers continues globally, another treasure trove of leaked documents revealing the offshore holdings of world’s rich and mighty has surfaced. The Panama Papers leak eventually resulted in the ouster of three times Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif, with the ousted Prime Minister and his family now facing corruption cases.
On Sunday the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) dropped another bomb shell on some of the world’s most powerful figures by making public another data leak, which has been dubbed the Paradise Papers. The Papers are a set of 13.4 million documents relating to offshore investment. The documents originate from the offshore law firm Appleby, the corporate services providers Estera and Asiaciti Trust, and business registries in 19 tax jurisdictions. They contain the names of more than 120,000 people and companies. Among those whose financial affairs are mentioned are Queen Elizabeth II, President of Colombia Juan Manuel Santos, and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. Other prominent figures named in the leak include former Canadian Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien, Paul Martin, and Brian Mulroney, Argentine Finance Minister Luis Caputo, former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and Queen Noor of Jordan among many others. The most prominent Pakistani name that has surfaced as the result of leak is former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz. Another Pakistani on the list is the former chairman of the National Insurance Corporation Limited, Ayaz Khan Niazi.
It is pertinent to mention here that the leaked files do not necessarily contain any proof of criminality on the part of the persons named in the documents. Moreover owning an offshore company is not a crime in itself but the fact that it is highly likely that money pumped into these holdings did not pass through legal banking channels and was instead laundered. But what the revelations do make abundantly clear is the fact that that there is one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest when it comes to paying tax; not just in Pakistan but globally.
The revelations show that there is one rule for the super-rich and another for the rest when it comes to paying tax.
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