‘Pandora Papers’ Contain a Few Names Familiar to the Industry

MajorsOct 06, 2021

‘Pandora Papers’ Contain a Few Names Familiar to the Industry

The papers involve millions of documents leaked to a consortium of journalists that shed light on the complex world of offshore banking.

The first reports from the “Pandora Papers,” a leak of nearly 12 million documents that give insight into the world of offshore banking, came out on Sunday. ICIJ called the leak Pandora because “we think we’re opening a box on a lot of things,” ICIJ Director Gerard Ryle said.
New York—A handful of individuals connected to the diamond and jewelry industries are among those mentioned in the initial stories to emerge following the release of the “Pandora Papers” on Sunday.

Called the largest investigation in journalism history, the Pandora Papers involve nearly 12 million documents leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists that shed light on the complex world of offshore banking and the rich and powerful people who benefit from it.

While offshore banking and tax havens are not illegal, the ICIJ notes, they can attract illegal activity—like money laundering and tax evasion—and obscure the vast wealth of many world leaders, some of whom head countries that are among the world’s poorest.

The jewelry industry figures who have surfaced in reports stemming from the Pandora Papers so far include Purvi Modi, sister of diamantaire Nirav Modi, who is still fighting extradition to India to face fraud charges. 

According to The Indian Express, one of the 150 media outlets involved in the investigation, Purvi set up a corporate trust in the British Virgin Islands in December 2017, a month before Nirav fled India and the banking scandal erupted.

She and another brother, Neeshal Modi, also are the beneficial owners of three BVI firms that Nirav allegedly used to launder money, the newspaper reported. 

In a statement to the Express, Purvi’s attorneys denied any wrongdoing on their client’s part.

According to The Times of Israel, diamantaire Beny Steinmetz also appears in the papers, which claim his children transferred about $1 billion to a fund in the Cook Islands at the “height of legal proceedings against him.”

The reason given for the transfer was that the family was displeased with how the fund was performing. Steinmetz did not comment on the transfer.

Denis Sassou-Nguesso, who has been president of the Republic of Congo for nearly four decades, is among the so-called Power Players included in the ICIJ’s reporting on its own website. 

ICIJ contends a complex corporate structure was created to conceal Sassou-Nguesso’s ownership of the company that controls the country’s diamond mines. 
Another African politician with diamond industry ties, former Zimbabwe Defense Secretary Martin Rushwaya, also appears in the papers.

ZimLive reported that Rushwaya set up a shell company in the Seychelles called Greatgem Corp. around the time Zimbabwe’s defense forces were working with Chinese company Anjin to mine diamonds in the troubled Marange region. Rushwaya declined to comment, ZimLive said. 

More than 600 journalists from 150 news outlets worked on investigations surrounding the leak of the Pandora Papers over the course of two years.

The project follows other ICIJ investigations that have exposed how the world’s rich and powerful are able to hide assets and, sometimes, avoid paying taxes or launder money.

“The ability to hide money has a direct impact on your life,” Lakshmi Kumar, Global Financial Integrity policy director, said in a video accompanying the release of the Pandora Papers. “It affects your child’s access to education, access to health, access to a home.”

This is not the first time a massive ICIJ investigation has included well-known figures in the jewelry industry.

The 2020 “Luanda Leaks” linked luxury brand De Grisogono to money laundering in Angola. The company filed for bankruptcy shortly after the report came out.

ICIJ said the Pandora Papers resulted from the biggest leak in its history, with 14 offshore service providers and law firms providing 2.94 terabytes of confidential information.

In an interview with Marketplace on Monday, journalist Dominic Rushe put the scope of the data leak into context, telling host Amy Scott that 2.94 terabytes is the equivalent of streaming Netflix in HD around the clock for 41 days.

For more on the Pandora Papers and to keep up with the various stories developing from the investigation, visit the ICIJ website

 Related stories will be right here … 
Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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