The British Virgin Islands has emerged as the clear jurisdiction of choice for setting up so-called shell companies abroad, according to the leaked law firm data now being called the Panama Papers, but the UK and the US state of Nevada also appear in the top 10.
According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which obtained the 11-million-plus confidential documents reportedly leaked from the Panama office of the Mossack Fonseca law group, close to one out of every two of the companies that appeared in the documents had been incorporated in the BVI — in other words, 113,648.
The second-favourite jurisdiction was Panama, where the law firm from which the files had been leaked was based.
The Bahamas was the third most popular jurisdiction in which clients of Mossack Fonseca parked their shell companies, followed in order by the Seychelles; Niue (a tiny island in the South Pacific); Samoa; British Anguilla; Nevada, US; Hong Kong; and the United Kingdom.
Below is the chart, from the ICIJ’s website, showing the approximate number of companies in each of the 10 jurisdictions.
To see this and eight other charts on the ICIJ’s website that have been drawn from the Panama Papers data, click here.
As reported, more than 11 million documents were passed by an as-yet-unidentified source to Germany’s Süddeutsche Zeitung Zeitung newspaper, which then shared them with the US-based ICIJ. The ICIJ in turn passed them on to some 107 media organisations, including the BBC’s Panorama TV show and the UK’s Guardian newspaper, in 78 countries around the world, which began reporting on their contents on Sunday.
Thus far a number of public figures have been put on the spot by some of the revelations, including Russian president Vladimir Putin, and Iceland’s prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was forced to step down yesterday, following protests by as many as 22,000 people in the Icelandic capital city of Reykjavik.
Source: The ICIJ