30 Bulgarians Part of Offshore Scandal, Unprecedented Leaks Show

Crime | May 24, 2013, Friday // 17:02|  views

The files contain information on over 120 000 offshore entities - including shell corporations and legal structures known as trusts - involving people in over 170 countries. Photo by 24 Hours

More than thirty Bulgarians have made the list of some 100 000 people around the world, who sought utmost secrecy in offshore tax havens, 24 Hours daily reported.

The list includes a financial expert (an Associate Professor and lecturer linked with the now defunct 1990s strong-arm structure SIC, who participated in the creation of insurance and pension funds), a state official (an expert in the Agriculture fund, who previously worked in the Ministry of Education), a founder of a private university in Bulgaria, many local businessmen, the report said.

Bulgaria's tax authorities have had no information about Bulgarians funneling money in offshore havens, according to the report, which cites well informed insiders.

Bulgaria's Revenues Agency declined commenting on the scandalous information, saying checks are underway.

A journalist from 24 Hours daily newspaper Stanimir Vaglenov is part of the Washington, D.C.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which has received nearly 30 years of data entries, emails and other confidential details from 10 offshore havens around the world in what is believed to be one of the largest ever leaks of financial data.

Nearly forty media outlets in 35 other countries have also been involved in investigating the unprecedented leaks.

The files contain information on over 120 000 offshore entities - including shell corporations and legal structures known as trusts - involving people in over 170 countries.

The leak amounts to 260 gigabytes of data, or 162 times larger than the US State Department cables published by WikiLeaks in 2010.

"What we found as we started digging in the records is a pretty extensive collection of dodgy characters: Wall Street fraudsters, Ponzi schemers, figures connected to organized crime, to arms dealing, money launderers," said Michael Hudson, a senior editor at the ICIJ, as cited by CBC.

"We just found a lot of folks involved in questionable or outright illegal activities."

There was also plenty of information related to legal offshore dealings. Offshore investments aren't illicit as long as they are not used to evade taxes or launder money.

In many cases, the leaked documents expose insider details of how agents would incorporate companies in Caribbean and South Pacific micro-states on behalf of wealthy clients, then assign front people called "nominees" to serve, on paper, as directors and shareholders for the corporations - disguising the companies' true owners.

Often the companies were set up through intermediary law and accounting firms, as well, adding a further layer of anonymity for investors.

Sometimes these methods were used by figures with known links to organized crime, arms dealers and ex-mercenaries. In other instances, documents reveal tax dodgers funneling money offshore, beyond the eyes and arms of their nation's treasury.

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Tags: Jean-Jacques Augier, French President, francois hollande, Cayman Islands, Ilham Aliev, Igor Shuvalov, data, financial, leak, offshore, tax havens, Caribbean, South Pacific


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