The Panama Papers, an unprecedented leak of 11.5 million files from the database of the fourth biggest offshore law firm in the world, Mossack Fonseca, reveal the myriad ways in which the rich exploit particular tax regimes to hide their money.
A Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca services include creating Panama offshore shell companies and similar business structures in jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands.
Close to 140 offshore companies mentioned in the documents are connected to political leaders, billionaires, film stars and sports stars. World leaders named in the leak include Argentine President Mauricio Macri, Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko, families of some of China’s top brass, the British Prime Minister David Cameron and associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin who are alleged to have secretly shuffled billions through banks and shadow companies to conceal their fortunes.
The leak paints a bleak picture of an interconnected network of international law firms and big banks selling financial secrets and information to political figures, drug trafficking factions, and fraud propagators. The data in the leak reveals how political associates of President Putin have siphoned $12 billion in government funds through anonymous bank accounts.
No. What has happened in Panama is not representative of the wider industry. While dealings of this nature are not illegal in themselves, they may be used to hide assets from tax authorities and conceal misappropriated political wealth by the mega-wealthy.
Absolutely. One major reason people hold money in a Dubai offshore company account, which is an account in a jurisdiction different to the one in which they reside, is convenience.
Dubai offshore company formation offers owners safe, flexible and international access to funds no matter where they may live and where they may move to in the future. Global investors do business in Dubai as it is well-regulated and set to grow and mature exponentially.
A thriving business hub in the Middle East, having a UAE offshore company protects companies that operate in multiple jurisdictions from double taxation, as the UAE is free from all kinds of tax be it income tax, capital gains tax, inheritance tax, etc.
Confidentiality is a huge plus, as the UAE does not disclose information to OECD, which means that all records of your wealth will usually be owned by a company which no one except you, as the owner, will know.
Thirdly, UAE offshore companies can have 100% foreign ownership, given the free zone options in the country.
The first in Dubai itself, under the regulating authority called Jebel Ali Free Zone Authority (JAFZA). The second is in Ajman, under the regulating authority, Ajman Free Zone. And the third is in Ras Al Khaimah, under the regulating authority, Ras Al Khaimah International Corporate Center (RAKICC).
Henri was born and raised in Lebanon and studied at University of Saint Joseph. He is an avid fan of extreme sports and RC car racing. He is fluent in French and Arabic, he has traveled extensively throughout the region and Europe for both for leisure and business.