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  • The company logo of Mossack Fonseca is seen inside the office of Mossack Fonseca & Co.

    The company logo of Mossack Fonseca is seen inside the office of Mossack Fonseca & Co. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 May 2016
Opinion

The publication of an online database has revealed more information on Caribbean havens.

The Panama Papers scandal has made headlines across the globe and on Monday the publication of a searchable online database for the papers by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists revealed in greater detail the connection to the Caribbean.

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Statistics in the database reveal that the majority of the companies that appear in the Panama Papers are incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. Panama has the second-largest number of companies, followed by the Bahamas.

The information was released Monday in a searchable, downloadable database that includes the registered names and addresses of over 320,000 offshore companies. It also includes the names of those listed as shareholders or directors of these companies.

The Bahamas, which depends on its financial services industry for survival, is now indelibly tied to the Panama Papers and will have a hard time shaking off its international reputation as a "tax haven." Since the Papers scandal was unveiled a few weeks ago, tax experts have been calling on the Bahamas to rethink its status as a "no tax" jurisdiction. Panamanian-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, from which the leaked records originated, has a physical presence in the Bahamas through its financial and corporate services provider subsidiary.

The database has revealed a number of world leaders’ ties to the Bahamas. They include Argentine President Mauricio Marci, who is listed as a former director of Fleg Trading Limited, which was incorporated in the Bahamas in 1998 and dissolved in 2009.

In the case of Barbados, the Panama Papers database listed 34 companies, with 12 clients, five beneficiaries and 34 shareholders.

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Antigua and Barbuda have 280 companies in the Papers between them, while there are 66 companies linked to Dominica. The government of Dominica is listed as a shareholder of one of those companies: the Shangri-La International Development Holding Limited.

In the case of Grenada, only three offshore entities are listed, along with four in Jamaica and eight in Saint Lucia.

Six companies from St. Vincent and the Grenadines and six from Trinidad and Tobago are listed in the Papers.

The Caribbean is certainly not immune to the international glare that is accompanying the Panama Papers. From the BVIs to the Bahamas, the issue of tax havens, tax avoidance and evasion is expected to dominate headlines in this region for some time to come.

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