DailyPost 1838

The genesis of the name for this cache of documents remains unknown. Pandora’s box is an artifact in Greek mythology connected with the myth of Pandora in Hesiod’s Works and Days. In reality this explanation is right; “A present which seems valuable but which in reality is a curse.” The recently well researched leak of papers, dubbed Pandora Papers, is because the findings of the research throw light on the hidden dealings of the elite and corrupt. This is the sordid saga of these greats, who have consistently used offshore accounts to shield their assets. The total assets in question collectively would run into trillions of dollars. This is not the first leak, it is the third starting from Panama Papers to Paradise Papers and now Pandora Papers.

It shows to the world what investigative journalism can deliver and that too when it is in a global collaborative mode. It is a leak of almost 12 million documents, files, emails and spreadsheets. This whole exercise has helped to expose the secret wealth and wheeling dealing they get into. It was a pure data based investigation, quite contrary to what we find in this country. “The data was obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington DC and has led to one of the biggest ever global investigations.” ICIJ is a US based not for profit, encompasses 280 of the best investigative reporters from more than 100 countries and territories. ICIJ wants ”to inspire and cultivate a global community of reporters and readers who believe journalism can bring about positive change.

The documents have been sourced from 14 financial services companies spreading across various countries including Panama, Switzerland and United Arab Emirates. As it stands now, the ICIJ is not identifying its source of the documents. The 2.9 terabyte leak is larger than the Panama Papers at 2.6 terabytes. The Pandora Papers leak is touted as the most expansive expose of financial secrecy. The expanse covered is humungous on the criteria of rich and mighty as well; 35 world leaders including current and former Presidents, Prime Ministers and heads of state. It also has within its fold 100 billionaires, celebrities and business leaders. It also has 400 public officials from 100 countries. There are well recognised companies which provide these services globally.

The nitty gritty of the complex financial system with special expertise in offshore accounts, tax havens, shell companies etc is what they specialise in. The best of the lawyers and auditors are a part of what can be called as the global money laundering racket so to say. We have Indian names also on the list. What is intriguing is that barely any action against the leaders business and political in their countries, when the material exposed leaves nothing much to doubt and a detailed national investigation of the ICIJ effort already put in, can prove criminality beyond doubt in any country. The fate of Panama and Paradise Papers has not been encouraging and seems to be little doubt that this expose would not meet the same fate. Corruption, money laundering and at the very least tax evasion has become the order of the day and has gained social and political acceptability.


Sanjay Sahay

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