But the Pandora Papers are not the first such leak. Confidential lists of offshore account holders have repeatedly found their way into the hands of journalists and governments over the past fifteen years. Here are five major previous leaks of documents from various tax havens:
Paradise Papers – 2017
What: Files from dozens of jurisdictions held by global offshore law firm Appleby, headquartered in Bermuda, as well as a Singapore-based offshore service provider. The leak also included company records from 19 countries and territories.
Number of people in the data: More than 120,000.
Canadians: Over 3,000.
Files disclosed: 13,4 millions.
Who leaked: The files were leaked to the same German journalists who received the 2016 Panama Papers (see below). Their source has not been identified.
Panama Papers – 2016
What: Files from 21 offshore jurisdictions held by a single global Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca.
Entities concerned: 214,000 offshore companies, trusts and other entities.
Canadians: More than 900 individuals, companies and trusts.
Files disclosed: 11,5 millions.
Who leaked: Journalists from the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung received the leak from an anonymous source named John Doe. German journalists shared the files with the ICIJ and its global media partners.
Taxes recovered: The Canada Revenue Agency says it assessed $ 29 million in additional taxes, but will not say how much it collected.
Leaks at sea – 2013
What: The files on 10 different offshore tax havens came mainly from two companies providing offshore services.
Number of people in the data: Tightly guarded investment information of more than 100,000 people was on the leak.
Canadians: About 450.
Files disclosed: 2,5 millions.
Who leaked: Australia-based Irish journalist Gerard Ryle received 260 gigabytes of files from one source and forwarded them to ICIJ. Ryle then became the director of the ICIJ.
Maillot HSBC – 2012
What: Records of UK account holders at HSBC World Bank branch in the Channel Island of Jersey have been disclosed to UK tax authorities
Number of people in the data: At least 4,388 clients, with accounts totaling $ 1.1 billion.
Number of Canadians: Unknown.
Who leaked: A whistleblower who has not been publicly identified.
Tax recovered: 170 HSBC clients have been valued for the equivalent of $ 34 million by the UK tax agency.
HSBC Geneva – 2009
What: Files on clients of HSBC’s private bank in Geneva
Number of people in the data: At least 106,000 account holders in over 200 countries, with accounts totaling $ 255 billion.
Canadians: 1,859 Canadian individuals and businesses, with accounts totaling $ 4 billion.
Who leaked: Hervé Falciani, a Franco-Italian information systems engineer who worked in IT security at HSBC’s private bank, has accumulated records in the course of his work. The French government got its hands on the list of accounts in 2009 after seizing Falciani’s computer. Parts of the leak were then obtained by tax authorities around the world and ultimately shared with journalists. A Swiss court sentenced Falciani in absentia in 2015 to five years in prison for economic espionage, but has lived in Spain since then and has not been extradited.
Tax recovered: The CRA said in 2015 that 264 Canadians came forward to voluntarily report previously unreported income, paying $ 28.4 million in taxes. Revenu Quebec said it recovered $ 34.4 million from 88 people who had not declared all of their income.