Skip to main content

Common Dreams. Journalism funded by people, not corporations.

There has never been—and never will be—an advertisement on our site except for this one: without readers like you supporting our work, we wouldn't exist.

No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news and opinion 365 days a year that is freely available to all and funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good.

Our mission is clear. Our model is simple. If you can, please support our Fall Campaign today.

Support Our Work -- No corporate influence. No pay-wall. Independent news funded by those who support our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. Please support our Fall Campaign today.

London company management firm Formations House was the subject of a massive leak that journalists began reporting on Wednesday.

London company management firm Formations House was the subject of a massive leak that journalists began reporting on Wednesday. (Image: Formations House/Facebook)

Massive Leak of Data Reveals Money-Hiding Secrets of Superrich—and This Is 'Only the Beginning'

"It's hard to overstate how notorious and suspicious the firm is."

Eoin Higgins

A massive trove of documents, data, and recorded phone calls showing how British company Formations House works to hide money for the superrich is being reported on by journalists all over the world, with the first stories dropping at midnight on Wednesday. 

The reporting is being done under the name "29 Leaks," a reference to Formations House's original address at 29 Harley Street in London. The data was leaked to the group Distributed Denial of Secrets over the summer. 

"It takes a concerted effort from a large number of people to make substantive headway on an investigation like this, in which a large amount of data needs to be quickly processed and examined," Claire Peters, executive director of the Pursuance Project, told Unicorn Riot on Tuesday.

Peters and Pursuance Project outreach director Annalise Burkhart led a team of reporters from around the world uncovering and detailing the information stored in the huge, roughly 100 GB-sized trove of data

"Formations House was the perfect example of a 'one-stop shop' for creating legal entities that serve as fronts for fraudulent operations and money laundering," said Burkhart. "In only a matter of days, a client could purchase offshore companies bundled into packages touting minimal compliance requirements, tax-free operations, and anonymity for directors and shareholders."

"It's hard to overstate how notorious and suspicious the firm is," Boing Boing wrote of Formations House when the leak's existence became public in July. 

According to Unicorn Riot, reporting from the data will have an international scope:

Formations House has been the subject of international scrutiny for years, and the #29Leaks documents have been under investigation for some time. It is expected that news stories in Central America, Africa and Europe will examine information drawn from this set of leaks. The use of Formations House-managed companies to move money around between offshore and private banking centers like Luxembourg and other parts of the world is among the main themes of this dataset. Other documents expected to be covered in detail show how the African nation of The Gambia is commonly used to create banks and insurance companies on paper for wealthy people in other continents, which Formations House and related parties package and facilitate.

On Tuesday The Times of London showed, via undercover reporting, how Formations House sets up shell companies for its clients. 

McClatchy reported on how Formations House helped Iran's national oil company avoid sanctions. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project detailed schemes across Eastern Europe. The Economic Times, meanwhile, dug into the comapny's Pakistani-British management. 

More reporting will come, said the Pursuance Project's Peters. 

"There's much more work to be done with this data," said Peters, "we're only at the beginning."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Watch: Bernie Sanders Argues 'We Must End the Greed of Big Pharma'

The live address comes as the Senate Budget Committee chair continues to push for including Medicare expansion and drug pricing reforms in the Build Back Better package.

Common Dreams staff ·


Reconciliation Framework 'Not Enough' to Push Through Infrastructure Bill, Progressives Warn

"We need to have a vote ready for the Build Back Better plan, not a framework," insisted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. "We want to have both of these votes together."

Brett Wilkins ·


McDonald's Workers Join 'Striketober' and Walk Out Over Sexual Harassment

One striker participated because "McDonald's still refuses to take responsibility for the countless women and teenagers who face harassment on the job at its stores across the globe."

Jessica Corbett ·


Breaking: FDA Panel Recommends Pfizer Covid-19 Vaccine for Kids 5 to 11

With just one abstention, the advisory panel voted 17-0 to approve the vaccine for younger children which scientific review has deemed both safe and effective against the deadly virus.

Common Dreams staff ·


Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo