A rare insight into the hidden wealth of the super-rich around the world has been revealed by leaks of over two million emails and documents.
They name some of the thousands of billionaires and mere millionaires worldwide who have stashed as much as £21 trillion in usually anonymous
An anonymous source handed the information to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in Washington last year.
The leaks have generated 160 times more data than Wikileaks and much of it is still being analysed.
It includes a list of tens of thousands of names from across 170 different countries who set up over 120,000 offshore trusts in ten different tax havens.
Many of these secret accounts are based in the UK-controlled tax haven the British Virgin Islands where 40 percent of the world’s offshore accounts and shell companies are held.
They expose the extent to which the rich want to hide the sheer scale of their wealth from tax inspectors and in some cases even their spouses.
The names released so far includes government ministers, dictators’ families, arms dealers and celebrities.
One high flying Canadian lawyer, Tony Merchant, insisted on sending envelopes stuffed with dollar bills and travellers cheques to pay his bank fees.
France’s president Francois Hollande has been rocked by revelations that Jean-Jacques Augier, who ran the finances in Hollande’s 2012 campaign, is one of the names.
This comes only weeks after Hollande’s budget minister Jerome Cahuzac had to resign.
He admitted he had been stashing money in a secret Swiss bank account for 20 years.
US composer Denise Rich is one of the names.
She has £94 million in the Cook Islands. She was once a Democratic Party fundraiser who led the campaign for president Clinton to pardon her fraudster ex-husband Marc Rich.
He did it on his last day in office.
It isn’t just the billionaires themselves who benefit from these tax scams. The British Virgin Islands are a lucrative source of income for City of London lawyers and accountants setting up their client’s shadowy accounts.
This is at the same time as the Foreign Office rakes in money from company licensing on the island.