A leak of more than 13 million documents pertaining to wealth stored in offshore tax havens has revealed information on tens of thousands of the world’s wealthiest companies and people, including high-profile figures from U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, to the Queen of England.
The documents — tagged as “Paradise Papers” — were obtained by German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with almost 100 media partners around the world by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), an international consortium of journalists.
The scale of the leak rivals that of last year’s Panama Papers, which laid bare 11.5 million financial documents for public scrutiny. According to the ICIJ, that exposé resulted in an estimated $135 billion being wiped off the value of nearly 400 companies, the recuperation of over $110 million worth of unpaid taxes, and at least 150 inquiries, audits or investigations by police, customs, financial crime and mafia prosecutors.
Like its 2016 predecessor, the disclosure of the Paradise Papers sheds light on the complex structures the global elite use to obfuscate their financial dealings. While the use of offshore accounts is not in and of itself illegal, it is sometimes linked to money laundering and tax avoidance.