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‘Pandora Papers’ shed more light on activities of Swiss financial advisors

Tax havens link up with a network of financial advisors and banks in numerous countries to funnel assets around the world. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

A new set of leaked documents, dubbed the Pandora Papers, has again exposed the role of Swiss lawyers, accountants and consultants in managing the wealth of powerful clients.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has revealed the contents of 11.9 million tax haven documents relating to the financial affairs of political leaders and other figures.

The leaked documents include details of how vast sums of money circulate around the world, including Switzerland, via opaque financial structures.

For example, one lawyer in central Switzerland tended to over 60 postbox firms on behalf of powerful people, including the president of Azerbaijan.

Another Swiss financial consultancy, Fidinam, has helped set up 7,000 shell companiesExternal link since the early 2000s, says ICIJ.

More than 90 Swiss advisers show up in the documents, including 26 that provided services to clients who have been probed by anti-money laundering investigators, according to ICIJExternal link.

While the Pandora Papers have yet to prove any criminal activity, previous leaks, such as the Panama Papers, have led to prosecutions.

Swiss banks have been forced to tighten their reporting of suspicious transactions in recent years, but efforts to impose such requirements on financial advisors have been rejected.

Earlier this year, lawmakers refused to extend anti-money-laundering provisions to lawyers and consultants despite mounting pressure from the Financial Action Task Force and NGOs.

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