What is Pandora papers and What exactly is in the Pandora papers?
Pandora papers, What exactly is in the Pandora papers? Why did the Guardian decide to explore the leaked data? And how did we decide what to publish?
By - The Guardian : In terms of volume, this is the largest trove of leaked offshore data in history. It comes from offshore service providers operating in Anguilla, Belize, Singapore, Switzerland, Panama, Barbados, Cyprus, Dubai, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles and Vietnam.
The files were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which is not identifying its source. The ICIJ gave 600 journalists around the world remote access to the leaked data to facilitate the largest journalistic collaboration in history. They include reporters from the Guardian, BBC, Le Monde and Washington Post.
Mining a leak of this size is a huge and complex task. It includes banking records, incorporation documents, correspondence and records showing the true ownership of shell companies. The 6.4m documents and 1.2m emails in the trove are written in English, Spanish, Mandarin, Korean, Russian and Greek.
Exponential growth of offshore industry
In deciding to review the leaked files, the Guardian began from the starting point that tax havens deserve scrutiny and that leaks of this kind have in the past proven a major public service.
Moving money offshore is not in or of itself illegal, and there are legitimate reasons why some people do it. However, the offshore industry has grown exponentially in recent decades, driven by wealthy individuals and corporations in search of sophisticated mechanisms for avoiding tax.While much of this may be legal, some of it is not; these secretive jurisdictions have also proved attractive to fraudsters, money launderers and tax evaders.
Tax havens are estimated to cost governments anywhere between $400bn and $800bn (£293bn to £586bn) every year in lost tax revenues from corporations and individuals. That may be an unfathomable sum, but it is real money that is not being spent on schools, hospitals or the transition to a low-carbon economy.
The Tax Justice Network ranks the UK as both one of the biggest tax losers from the offshore industry and perhaps its greatest enabler. The so-called “spiderweb” of British crown dependencies and overseas territories accounts for roughly a third of global tax losses borne by other countries.
The Pandora papers follow in the footsteps of two previous seismic leaks facilitated by the ICIJ. The Panama and Paradise papers, in 2016 and 2017, prompted global debates about the ethics of offshore finance and helped bring about some genuine reforms in places such as the British Virgin Islands.
They also upheld the law and saved the public purse, enabling governments to recoup more than $1.36bn in back taxes and penalties. The Pandora papers promises similar global repercussions, but it is different to its predecessors in important ways.
It arrived in the middle of a global pandemic that has led to record levels of peacetime government borrowing. Already ordinary taxpayers are having to bear the brunt of tax rises that will linger for decades to come. Against this backdrop, the moral case for analysing leaked data to investigate the secrecy, complexity and unfairness of the offshore economy seems greater than ever before.
But we have always considered tax avoidance and evasion to be a subject of genuine public interest. Important legal, societal, fiscal and moral issues are in play. Governments also need to be held to account, and it is the role of journalism to inform political debates around the need to reform legislation, rules or practices.
The Pandora papers will go further than any previous journalistic investigation in history in shedding light on the financial affairs of political elites, including 35 current and former heads of state and more than 300 public officials. We believe these political figures and their wealthy donors deserve particular scrutiny, not least so voters can make informed choices.
It is right and proper for journalists to hold politicians and their backers to account over their promises, and to ask if their own financial affairs present a conflict of interest when it comes to reforming the offshore economy.
We will also be reporting on the role played by the bureaucrats who prefer to remain in the shadows – the offshore providers, accountants and London lawyers who help set up and service these offshore structures.
It is important to note that not everyone named in the Pandora papers is suspected of wrongdoing. Those we have chosen to highlight may stand accused of a wide range of misbehaviour: from the morally questionable through to the potentially criminal.