Small islands BIG secrets

Leaked documents reveal billions in bribes, tax dodging

TEN different Pacific Island states have been linked with billions of dollars in shady offshore banking and tax haven deals, in two major media exposes. Global attention focused late last month on UnaOil, an energy services company linked with major players in the west, and suppliers in the Middle East – with paperwork routed through the Marshall Islands.

The first expose, a joint investigation by Fairfax media and Huffington Post headlined as the “world’s biggest bribe scandal” – has prompted police investigations in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. Then, early this month, a separate investigation exposed Mossack Fonseca, a shadowy company with links to Pacific states including the Marshalls, as well as New Zealand and Australia.

The company was investigated by ICIJ, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, in a leak of 11 million documents first given to German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The data shows that Mossack Fonseca worked with more than 14,000 banks, law firms, company incorporators and other middlemen to set up companies, foundations and trusts for customers,” ICIJ states in its expose.

Showing company deals dating back to 1975 up to as late as December 2015, ICIJ this month stated it would publish all the documents, some 2.5 terabytes in size, next month. As many as 376 journalists across more than 100 news outlets have been working on the files for nearly a year, …