The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, a global network of 160 journalists from 60 countries, has had access to a cache of more than 2 million files which open the secrets of more than 120,000 offshore companies and trusts –mainly located in the British Virgin Islands and the Cook Islands– covering nearly 30 years.
The leak discloses the names of several users of tax havens and provides facts and figures that illustrate how offshore financial secrecy has spread around the globe, allowing the wealthy and well-connected to dodge taxes and fueling corruption and economic woes in rich and poor nations alike.
On the other side the files shine a light on the day-to-day tactics that offshore services firms and their clients use to keep offshore companies, trusts and their owners under cover.
As the Tax Justice Network report published last year stated, tax havens have accumulated 20-30 trillion dollars. This is almost the sum of the Japanese and North American economies together and would collect 200-300 billion dollars if it was tax a 30%. If this sum were finally collected and dedicated to finance development needs, it would be almost two times the current Official Development Aid estimated –in the last OECD data- in 125 billion dollars (0.29%) and which has dropped a -4% in 2011, far away from the 0.7% commitment.