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Tax Haven Leak Promises 'Seismic Stir' Among World's Richest

UK's Guardian names the financial elite who hide billions in offshore accounts

Lauren McCauley, staff writer

The British Virgin Islands appear to be the perfect haven. (Photo: Arctic Whirlwind via Flickr)

A massive data leak is likely to cause a "seismic stir" among the world's financial elite, as records exposing for the first time the identities of thousands holding offshore bank accounts have found their way to the public's eye.

The Guardian newspaper has announced an exclusive scoop on roughly two million internal records that have leaked from Britain's offshore financial industry, primarily from the UK-controlled offshore haven of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Economists estimate that over $20 trillion could lie in offshore accounts, with the BVI being among the most successful of the "mushrooming secrecy havens."

The records promise to expose the identities of thousands,"from presidents to plutocrats," who burrow their anonymous wealth in havens free of tax or public scrutiny.

Behind the leak is the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists [ICIJ], who have unearthed the names in collaboration with The Guardian and other international media outlets, who are jointly publishing the bulk of the results later this week.

The Guardian writes:

In France, Jean-Jacques Augier, President François Hollande's campaign co-treasurer and close friend, has been forced to publicly identify his Chinese business partner. It emerges as Hollande is mired in financial scandal because his former budget minister concealed a Swiss bank account for 20 years and repeatedly lied about it.

In Mongolia, the country's former finance minister and deputy speaker of its parliament says he may have to resign from politics as a result of this investigation.

You can read the rest of the story here.


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