In the digital age, offshore secrets are hard to keep. In its latest revelations, investigations have been published based on the leak of 1.3m internal files from the company register of the Bahamas, one of the world’s most notorious tax havens.
The data has brought to light on Wednesday details of the financial interests of politicians, entrepreneurs, financiers – and fraudsters. Five months after the release of the Panama Papers, this new cache of information from the world of offshore tax havens contains the names of directors and some shareholders at nearly 176,000 shell companies, trusts and foundations.
It was received by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and will be shared with the public in a Bahamas leaks database, built by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington and also launched on Wednesday.
The Bahamas has bilateral information-sharing agreements with 32 countries, including the UK, Germany, France and the US, but has completed no new deals since 2013. Many of these agreements are of limited use because they are with other tax havens, such as Guernsey and Malta, or with tiny economies such as Greenland.
With $223bn (£172bn) stashed in the small Caribbean nation’s banks, 26 times its GDP, the former British colony is increasingly seen as clinging to the secrecy that has allowed it to attract such money. Representatives from the Bahamas have been touring the conference circuit.
The names of the Greeks who are associated with the Bahama leaks are more than 70, and some of them very well known. Between them, Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, the major shareholder in Proton, and George Kiriakidis, son of Petros Kiriakidis who is a collaborator of the businessman but hasn’t yet faced justice since he had fled right before the issue of his warrant in March 2013. Lavrediadis and Kiriakidis are members of the board in Dionar Foundation that was founded six years ago in the Bahamas, according to the recent revelations of thw Bahama Leaks.
The Bahamas have been also the right place for the business activities of the gun merchant Vlasis Kabouroglou , as well as stockbroker George Daskaleas, whose name appears as the manager of GP&K company. Moreover, investigation from Judicial Authorities revealed that there were companies that operated to secure kickbacks for the supply of equipment systems for the Ministry of Defense.
The data released today involve the basic building blocks of offshore companies: a company’s name, its date of creation, the physical and mailing address in the Bahamas and, in some cases, the company’s directors. At a basic level, this information is crucial to day-to-day commerce. In other cases, police, detectives and fraud investigators use registries as starting points on the trail of wrongdoing.
A statement from the FBI said: ‘In response to your inquiry regarding allegations within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States; specifically, an aircraft carrying Mr. Brad Pitt and his children, the FBI is continuing to gather facts and will evaluate whether an investigation at the federal level will be pursued.’