An ICIJ Investigation Secrecy for Sale: Inside the Global Offshore Money Maze

Bahamas' Secrets Revealed

Former top EU official among the politicians and others named in leak revealing 175,000 offshore companies registered in the Bahamas.

Now, for the first time, users can access corporate data from the Bahamas – including some politicians’ offshore holdings – online for free.

Dodgy characters are buying up luxury New York apartments to funnel wealth into the United States.

Files shed light on nearly 22,000 tax haven clients from Hong Kong and mainland China.

Key findings

  • Millions of leaked files from two financial service providers, a private bank in Jersey and the Bahamas corporate registry reveal how tax havens around the world are used to hide riches.
  • Government officials and their families and associates in China, Azerbaijan, Russia, Canada, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Mongolia and other countries have embraced the use of covert companies and bank accounts.
  • The mega-rich use complex offshore structures to own mansions, yachts, art masterpieces and other assets, gaining tax advantages and anonymity not available to average people.
  • Many of the world’s top’s banks – including UBS, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank – have aggressively worked to provide their customers with secrecy-cloaked companies in the British Virgin Islands and other offshore hideaways.
  • A well-paid industry of accountants, middlemen and other operatives has helped offshore patrons shroud their identities and business interests, providing shelter in many cases to money laundering or other misconduct.
  • Ponzi schemers and other large-scale fraudsters routinely use offshore havens to pull off their shell games and move their ill-gotten gains.

About this investigation

ICIJ's exploration of the secretive world of offshore companies and trusts began after a computer hard drive packed with corporate data and personal information and e-mails arrived in the mail.

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A secret list of account holders reveals how rich Britons are legally exploiting tax havens, despite a UK government crackdown.

Seychelles, a thousand miles from anywhere, is an offshore magnet for money launderers and tax dodgers.

Court records and secret offshore files shine light on a Chinese green energy firm’s links to an Italian criminal probe and figures with possible ties to the Sicilian Mafia.

A French journalist travels from Paris to visit the Caribbean hideaway that has become the favorite destination for Chinese offshore patrons.

Search more than 37,000 tax haven clients from Greater China in the ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database.

Until now, no journalist had been able to crack the secret offshore money system on a global scale. But Offshore Leaks laid…

One man’s legal battle against oil giant highlights role that offshore murk plays in China’s economy.

Where residents of mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan prefer to incorporate their offshore entities.

Among thousands of Chinese users of tax havens revealed in the ICIJ files are relatives of the country’s top leaders and some…

Stonewalls & Secrecy

Paradise of Untouchable Assets

The Cook Islands have gained the reputation of being a place where assets can be hidden from business partners or former spouses.

Big players are taking unprecedented steps to stop offshore abuses, but financial crime fighters worry reforms don’t go far enough.

Newly revealed documents paint former Macedonian economics minister as backstage player in demise of big employer in Serbia’s heartland.

Alleged underworld figure moved money around the world as he was being sought on money laundering charges in the United States.

The ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database cracks open the impenetrable world of offshore tax havens. Users can through more than 100,000 secret companies,…

Readers can search information about the ownership of more than 100,000 offshore entities in tax havens and discover the networks around them.

‘Offshore Leaks’ records show oldest son of South Korea’s former president Chun Doo-hwan had British Virgin Islands company amid his family’s tax evasion scandal.

IRS thought to be using Offshore Leaks material against First Caribbean International Bank in tax evasion inquiry.

Raiffeisen Bank’s Herbert Stepic says he’s stepping down to shield the Austrian financial giant from a media firestorm over his offshore holdings.

The U.S., British and Australian authorities are working with a gigantic cache of leaked data — believed to include those obtained by the ICIJ — that may be the beginnings of one of the largest tax investigations in history.

Canadian man who vanished a decade ago in a possible underworld killing set up offshore companies and bank accounts before he went missing.

Money-laundering issues at U.S. and UK financial firms shed light on role of rich nations and elite banks in the offshore world.

Real estate mogul Hans Thulin built offshore maze as Swedish government and other creditors pursued him, secret records show.

State-owned postal company Itella has three subsidiaries in Cyprus and one in the British Virgin Islands, records show.

Paul Hogan wants his millions back from Switzerland, but his Geneva intermediaries refuse to give him the loot.

Five directors of Banco Amambay created a secret bank in the Cook Islands with no building and no staff.

Politicians, business leaders among prominent figures linked to tax haven activity.

Clariden, part of Credit Suisse, sought highly secretive structures for some clients.

Late guardian of French branch of banking dynasty had a web of at least 20 secrecy-cloaked trusts in the South Pacific.

Shares of an offshore company were held in trust for the daughters of Nigerian mega-church pastor, associate says.

ING and ABN Amro set up dozens of companies in island tax havens.

Owners of corporations registered in tax havens include some linked to regime of the late dictator, Suharto.

Thyssen, Sachs and Rothschild are among Switzerland’s largest law firm clients.

Ex-wife is suing Scot Young for share of $610m fortune that he claims he lost within three months.

Moonis Elahi, a Punjab legislator, was shareholder of a British Virgin Islands firm set up with the help of Swiss bank UBS.

Key members of the Malaysian government, their families, and well-heeled associates are among those owning secretive offshore companies in Singapore and the British Virgin Islands.

Worldwide network of ‘nominee directors’ helps hide real people, and organizations, behind offshore companies.

Internal records of offshore trusts and companies in the South Pacific and the Caribbean reveal sanctuaries for secrecy-seekers.

Secrecy for Sale

Video: Tax Havens 101

What are offshore tax havens, who uses them, and how do they work? Find out in our explainer, and get the full…

Secret documents show that, from the late 1990s until the end of the 2000s, French banks BNP Paribas and Crédit Agricole oversaw the creation of a large number of totally opaque offshore companies for clients in search of secrecy and lower tax rates.

The story of Portcullis TrustNet and its birthplace — the Cook Islands — is in many ways the story of the offshore system itself.

He’s known as Brigitte Bardot’s husband, photographer, director, art collector. Now another aspect has come to light about Gunter Sachs: a man who set up an intricate offshore scheme to manage his vast fortune, a scheme that remained inscrutable to the fiscal authorities until the end.

Secret records from British Virgin Islands firm show a South African and two Americans reaped $2.5 million from aborted sale of surplus military choppers to Congolese leader.

Jean-Jacques Augier says that his actions were fully legal and attributes his participation in these schemes to his “adventurous nature”.

British Virgin Islands firm kept doing business with shady characters even as regulators prodded it to obey anti-money-laundering laws.

Offshore reporting collaboration prompts interest from two Philippine government agencies and attorney representing former Marcos regime political prisoners.

Largest German bank’s Singapore unit helped birth companies and trusts in tax havens.

Secret records obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reveal tens of thousands of people in more than 170 countries and territories linked to offshore companies and trusts. Here are some examples from around the world.

A massive leak of financial data to media outlets around the globe has spurred a series of investigations into offshore banking and…

Lawyer Tony Merchant, Canada’s “class action king,” sought secrecy for Cook Islands trust.

Members of Azerbaijan’s first family have had been shareholders in at least four offshore companies, newly revealed records show.

Deputy speaker of Mongolia’s Parliament admits he had $1 million Swiss account.

Famed Spanish art patron uses island haven in South Pacific to manage her collection.

Bribes for Venezuelan officials were funneled through tax havens, court filings claim.

He’s known as Brigitte Bardot’s husband, photographer, director, art collector. Now another aspect has come to light about Gunter Sachs: a man…

Politicians and billionaire business magnates are among prominent Thais listed in secret documents as owners of offshore holdings in tax havens.

Owners of corporations registered in British Virgin Islands include top managers of state-controlled giants.

Records show late dictator’s oldest child, now a Philippine provincial governor, didn’t disclose British Virgin Islands trust in asset declarations required for public officials.

The ICIJ’s exploration of the secretive world of offshore companies and trusts began after a computer hard drive packed with corporate data and personal information and e-mails arrived in the mail.

Secrecy for Sale

Interactive: Stash Your Cash

Recent leaks of secret banking information have helped authorities around the world crack down on tax cheats who go offshore, resulting in…

Secrecy for Sale

Key Findings

Millions of leaked files from two financial service providers, a private bank in Jersey and the Bahamas corporate registry reveal how tax…

Dozens of journalists sifted through millions of leaked records to produce ICIJ’s investigation into offshore secrecy.

Officials say they will check ICIJ’s data for any evidence of misconduct by owners of offshore companies.

Arms deals between North Korea and Iran, money-laundering by Mexican drug lords, and Russia’s largest tax fraud: the common element is a 68-year-old Queensland businessman, Geoffrey Taylor.

Properties being bought through the use of tax loopholes and the secrecy offered by the British Virgin Islands (BVI). Click on the…

The goals, team members, and media partners of this multi-year project.

Companies making use of offshore secrecy include firm that supplied surveillance software used by repressive regimes.

The millionaire head of a controversial cosmetic surgery chain, the biggest in the UK, owned a secret offshore company linked to the clinic, it can be revealed.

Former tennis star David Lloyd among UK citizens who used offshore companies to buy high-end properties on island of Phuket.

Questions arise as mega-rich from Russia and former Soviet republics descend on London.

Bankrupt Irish developer and the Ukraine’s richest man are among individuals linked to hyper-lux apartments for the super rich.

Secretive trusts and companies born in British Virgin Islands have helped anonymous buyers snap up luxury properties in London and other UK locales.

Secrecy for Sale

Video: How To Dodge Tax

ICIJ collaborated with the BBC and the Guardian to unmask the “nominee directors” who pose as public faces for more than 21,500…

UK’s crackdown on Channel island ‘Sark Lark’ simply scattered key players to other tax havens.

Secrecy for Sale

How the nominee trick works

Three pieces of paper allow companies’ real owners to hide behind ‘nominee’ directors.

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