Once again the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the same group that released the now infamous “Panama Papers,” has now released a cache of leaked documents provides names of politicians and others linked to more than 175,000 Bahamian companies registered between 1990 and 2016!
For years, Neelie Kroes traveled Europe as one of the continent’s senior officials, warning big corporations that they couldn’t “run away” from the European Union’s rules. The Dutch politician sympathized with average citizens who worried they’d been left to pay the bills “as infringers cream off the extra profits.”What Kroes never told audiences and didn’t tell European Commission officials in mandatory disclosures was that she had been listed as a director of an offshore company in the Bahamas, the Caribbean tax haven whose secrecy and tax structures have attracted multinational companies and criminals alike. Kroes was listed as director of a Bahamian company from 2000 to 2009, according to documents reviewed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
Details of Kroes’ link to the offshore company are among the numerous revelations found in a new leak of documents, received by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with ICIJ, that disclose details behind companies incorporated in the Bahamas. The cache of 1.3 million files from the island nation’s corporate registry provides names of directors and some owners of more than 175,000 Bahamian companies, trusts and foundations registered between 1990 and early 2016.Today ICIJ, Süddeutsche Zeitung and other media partners are making this information available to the public. This creates, for the first time, a free, online and publicly-searchable database of offshore companies set up in the Bahamas.
This information has been combined with data from the Panama Papers and other leaked offshore documents to add additional heft to one of the largest public databases of offshore entities in history.The new leaked documents include the names of 539 registered agents, corporate middlemen who serve as intermediaries between Bahamian authorities and customers who wish to create an offshore company. Among them is Mossack Fonseca, the law firm whose leaked files formed the basis of the Panama Papers. The firm set up 15,915 entities in the Bahamas, making it Mossack Fonseca’s third busiest jurisdiction. At one point, Bahamian companies were among Mossack Fonseca’s best-sellers.
Beyond Mossack Fonseca and the Panama Papers, the leaked Bahamian files reveal details of the offshore activities of prime ministers, cabinet ministers, princes and convicted felons. It is generally not illegal to own or direct an offshore company, and there are legitimate business reasons in many cases for setting up an offshore structure. But transparency experts say it’s important that public officials disclose their connections to offshore entities.
The political and government figures named in the leaked documents include Colombia’s minister of mines and energy between 1999 and 2001, Carlos Caballero Argáez. He was listed as president and secretary of a Bahamian company, Pavc Properties Inc., between 1997 and 2008. Caballero Argáez also appeared as director of Norway Inc., a company registered in the Bahamas between 1990 and 2015.
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