The investigative media group behind the recent Paradise Papers revelations has today released information from the corporate registers of four Caribbean jurisdictions that it says adds layers of information to the limited amount that the jurisdictions currently put into the public domain.
The four jurisdictions named and shamed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) are Barbados, the Bahamas, Aruba and Nevis, all of which were previously highlighted by the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) as being “uncooperative tax havens.”
However, the OECD removed them from the list after they committed to implementing the OECD’s standards of transparency and exchange of information.
It did not prevent Barbados appearing on the long-awaited European Council’s Code of Conduct (COC) blacklist of so-called tax havens last month, as reported by International Investment.
Aruba was part of the “grey list” that agreed to amend or abolish its “harmful tax regime” by 2018.
St Kitts and Nevis ‘saved by the hurricane’
The EC did not include Bahamas or the federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis on the blacklist, noting when the list was released that the two jurisdictions “were severely struck by devastating storms in September 2017, causing casualties and major damage to key infrastructure”, effectively giving them the benefit of the doubt.
ICIJ pointed out that the registers for these four jurisdictions offer very limited searches, with no transparent listings of company officers and directors, essential for establishing beneficial ownership of companies, especially so-called shell companies.
ICIJ gives the example of Barbados, whose online register states “The database is updated only periodically by a private contractor and accordingly, search results will not give a real-time reflection of all the entries.
“In these circumstances, the office does not and cannot guarantee the accuracy or integrity of any of the search results which are obtained from this site.”
Nominee directors hiding the real owners
However, when ICIJ added more than 40,000 Barbados entities to its Offshore Leaks Database, it was able to ensure that the database can be searched by company names, connected to more than 120,000 officers.
“Many of these listed officers may be nominee directors,” ICIJ said. “For example, Trevor A Carmichael – a top lawyer on the island and often a nominee director – is is connected in the data to more than more than 1,000 companies.”
Nominee directors are third-party directors, usually locally based, who are registered in order to prevent the real beneficial owners of such companies having to be identified, usually for reasons of tax evasion and other illicit activities, such as scams.
To search ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks Database, click here