Monday, October 04, 2021

Operation Pandora Box:: An offshore data tsunami behind secret keepers

 We hang the petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office

 - Aesop

The tax office says it will analyse a trove of secret documents released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that allegedly show the secret tax affairs of the super wealthy and famous to see if it can identify any possible Australian links.

I am shocked … Four Corners ...

Pandora papers: 'it's time to pursue lawyers and accountants who enable tax evasion' – offshore tax expert Q&A

More than 11.9M confidential files

• More than 600 journalists • 150 news outlets • 2 years of reporting The #PandoraPapers offer insights into why governments and global organizations have made little headway in ending offshore financial abuses.
Pandora Papers: An unprecedented leak exposes the inner workings of a shadow economy: Video

Pandora Papers: An offshore data tsunami

The Pandora Papers’s 11.9 million records arrived from 14 different offshore services firms in a jumble of files and formats – even ink-on-paper – presenting a massive data-management challenge

Soon everyone will be talking about the #PandoraPapers. The new investigation — our most expansive exposé of financial secrecy yet — drops Sunday at 12:30 p.m. EDT, 4:30 p.m. GMT. Get ready for reporting from 600+ journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries.

ATO statement regarding Pandora Papers

We are aware that the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is today reporting they have released data referred to as the Pandora Papers.

ATO Deputy Commissioner and Serious Financial Crime Taskforce (SFCT) Chief Will Day said the ATO regularly receives information from a range of different sources in our efforts to fight tax evasion and crime.

“While the information in data leaks is interesting, we don’t rely on data leaks to do our job. We detect, investigate and deal with offshore tax evasion year-round,” Mr Day said.

Richard Murphy: The Pandora Papers are old news: the question is whether the measures now being taken are already impacting what is happening offshore?

October 4 2021

I have not given the so-called Pandora Papers that are exciting some of the media and the tax justice movement much attention. There are a number
Read the full article…

Millions of documents reveal offshore deals and assets of more than 100 billionaires, 30 world leaders and 300 public officials

Pandora Papers: Secret wealth and dealings of world leaders exposed 

One of the world’s biggest data leaks has exposed how an Australian accountant made a fortune keeping his clients’ secrets away from prying eyes.  

February is one of the coldest times of year in Moscow, and it was in that frigid month that Australian accountant Graeme Briggs touched down in 2015. He was there for a face-to-face meeting with a client. 

Briggs took his seat at the upmarket La Maree seafood restaurant, minutes from the Kremlin, to join Herman Gref. 

The Secret Keeper

Washington Post, The Pandora Papers | A Global Investigation | Billions Hidden Beyond Reach:

A massive trove of private financial records shared with The Washington Post exposes vast reaches of the secretive offshore system used to hide billions of dollars from tax authorities, creditors, criminal investigators and — in 14 cases involving current country leaders — citizens around the world.

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Pandora Papers

BBC, Pandora Papers: Secret Wealth and Dealings of World Leaders Exposed

What are the Pandora Papers? The biggest leak in history explained

On Monday morning 14 heads of state, 21 former heads of state and more than 130 billionaires woke to a shock. Their offshore banking affairs – usually extremely private – were suddenly public.

  • Oct 4, 2021
  • Neil Chenoweth and Liam Walsh

What are the Pandora Papers? The biggest leak in history explained

Neil Chenoweth
Neil ChenowethSenior writer

On Monday morning 14 heads of state, 21 former heads of state and more than 130 billionaires woke to a shock. Their offshore banking affairs – usually extremely private – were suddenly public and would dominate global news headlines for days.

They had fallen foul of the Pandora Papers, the largest leak of documents ever.

What are the Pandora Papers?

In 2019 an anonymous source began sending huge quantities of documents to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based in Washington.

The files revealed a global cast of fugitives, convicts, celebrities, football stars and others, including judges, tax officials, spy chiefs and mayors, and the secret assets, covert deals and hidden fortunes of the super-rich.

“We’re not talking about millions of dollars here, we’re talking about trillions of dollars,” ICIJ director Gerard Ryle says.

As the document dumps continued into 2020, the ICIJ realised the leak was at a level not seen before.

How big is Pandora Papers?

The data set is 11.9 million documents in 2.94 terabytes of data. Some records go back to the 1970s, but most of the companies, trusts and foundations were set up between 1996 and 2010. The ICIJ shared the files with more than 600 journalists in 130 media organisations – the biggest journalist collaboration in history.


What is the ICIJ?

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was set up in Washington in 1997 by the US Centre for Public Integrity but has been independent since 2017. Its staff work across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

It has pioneered a new form of collaborative journalism where media organisations and journalists around the world work together to investigate leaks on a shared platform, like a very large newsroom.

How does Pandora Papers compare?

The ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks in 2013 was a 260-gigabyte set of 2.5 million documents from the Portcullis offshore group, obtained by Ryle.

The Panama Papers in 2016 comprised 11.5 million files of Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca, with 2.6 terabytes of data.

Paradise Papers in 2017 contained 13.4 million documents in 1.4 terabytes of data from British Virgin Islands law firm Appleby.

Pandora Papers, rather than just one firm, has files from 14 different offshore service providers. The code name for the 12-month investigation was Aladdin.

Which countries are included?

Bahamas, Belize, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cook Islands, Cyprus, Dubai, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Isle of Man, Jersey, Latvia, Malta, Nevis, New Zealand, Panama, Samoa, Seychelles, Singapore and Switzerland.

How many Australians are in the Pandora Papers?

The ICIJ has identified approximately 40,000 names of global citizens. The Australian Financial Review has identified 402 Australian names but this undercounts people with dual nationality who use another passport, where intermediary firms did not name the beneficial owner, and blurred documents that defeat optical character-recognition search programs.

Why are the documents hard to analyse?

The documents are unstructured data: a mix of email files, images, PDFs, Word and Excel documents and other formats. While the ICIJ uses powerful search engines with optical character recognition, low-quality, blurred images can cause the search to fail.

Some offshore investors have appeared in several leaks, which builds a broader picture. Pandora Papers include many former Mossack Fonseca clients who moved their accounts after the Panama Papers.

Will the ICIJ make the documents public?

The ICIJ is planning on publishing some of the data in November, with the rest early next year. The information is likely to be in graphic form, as with Panama Papers.

Is using tax havens illegal?

International investors routinely use low-tax jurisdictions to avoid being taxed twice. Profits are taxed back in their home country. It only becomes tax avoidance or tax evasion when the offshore profits are not disclosed to tax authorities. Many of the politicians in Pandora Papers have campaigned publicly against tax haven secrecy.

Reputational risk is another issue. Bona fide investors in offshore entities can later discover their service provider is also associated with clients involved in money laundering and other crime.

What happens now?

Most of the global reforms triggered by the Panama Papers have stalled. In Australia, moves to implement rules first proposed in the 2006 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act and adopted elsewhere in most OECD countries have been repeatedly blocked. Another Senate inquiry on money laundering will report in December.

Who is in the files?

Countries where current and former heads of state are linked to offshore holdings include:

Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Chile, Colombia, Comoros, Congo-Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Gabon, Georgia, Haiti, Honduras, Hong Kong, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mongolia, Montenegro, Mozambique, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Qatar, Spain, UAE, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.

In some cases more than one head of state appears.

Neil Chenoweth is an investigative reporter for The Australian Financial Review. He is based in Sydney and has won multiple Walkley Awards. Connect with Neil on Twitter. Email Neil at

[October 10, 2021] “The Washington Post is joining news organizations around the globe to bring you the first in a series of important stories. These are the product of nearly a year of reporting at The Post focused on a vast trove of documents that expose a secretive financial universe that benefits the wealthy and powerful. The project, known as the Pandora Papers, was conceived and organized by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which obtained the records and shared them with The Post and other partners. The documents — more than 11.9 million records from 14 offshore entities, including law and wealth-management firms — illuminate a hidden world that has allowed government leaders, a monarch, billionaires and criminals to shield their assets. The Post decided to join this project because we felt certain that the breadth of records obtained by the ICIJ would shine a light on aspects of the international financial system that have operated with little or no oversight. A similar but narrower ICIJ investigation, known as the Panama Papers and published in 2016, revealed hidden wealth that ignited protests in several countries, forcing two world leaders from power. The sheer scope of the records was too large for effective review by any single news organization. The partnership with the ICIJ allowed The Post, the BBC, the Guardian and others to work together in scouring the documents, validating the material and conducting the additional reporting needed to place key findings in context.

PANDORA PAPERS: An offshore data tsunami.

A 2.94 terabyte data trove exposes the offshore secrets of wealthy elites from more than 200 countries and territories. These are people who use tax and secrecy havens to buy property and hide assets; many avoid taxes and worse. They include more than 330 politicians and 130 Forbes billionaires, as well as celebrities, fraudsters, drug dealers, royal family members and leaders of religious groups around the world.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists spent more than a year structuring, researching and analyzing the more than 11.9 million records in the Pandora Papers leak. The task involved three main elements: journalists, technology and time.