About 100 companies linked to Cayman in Panama Papers

Data shows 600 Cayman-based officers

The “Panama Papers” leak from Mossack Fonseca law firm has put tremendous pressure on offshore financial centers. - Photo: AP
The facade of the Arango Orillac Building, home of the Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama City, Panama, which is the source of the vast trove of documents detailing offshore financial dealings. – Photo: AP

The Cayman Islands plays only a minor role in the offshore data leak involving the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Of the 214,000 offshore companies set up by the firm, none was incorporated in the Cayman Islands and only 104 had a link to Cayman. In almost all of these cases, the companies, although incorporated elsewhere, provided a Cayman Islands contact address or were set up on the instruction of a Cayman-based intermediary.

About a third of the companies are still active.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists on Monday published an online database of entities, officers and intermediaries linked to the Panama Papers release. The database does not contain all of the 11.5 million internal documents belonging to Mossack Fonseca because the ICIJ decided not to release files containing phone numbers, bank account information, financial transactions or passports for privacy reasons. As a result, the database does not always reveal the beneficial owners of the entities, but more commonly shows only a corporate service provider or parent company.

However, the now-published data includes all of the 214,000 offshore companies established or administered by Mossack Fonseca between 1977 and 2015. In addition, the database contains about 14,000 intermediaries, such as law firms, banks and trust services providers who directed the Panama law firm to establish entities on behalf of their clients.

A cursory search of the Cayman-linked entities, officers and intermediaries revealed the typical assortment of banks and trust services providers, investment entities and corporate directors that can be expected in a corporate database of offshore companies.

In addition to 104 entities connected with the Cayman Islands, there were 32 Cayman intermediaries linked to entities set up by Mossack Fonseca. Cayman companies, service providers and individuals are named about 600 times as officers of entities created by the Panama law firm.

In the international context, this means Cayman’s role in the Panama Papers is relatively benign as far as volume is concerned. Mossack Fonseca worked with intermediaries in more than 100 countries.

An analysis by Swissinfo shows that the largest number of intermediaries that instructed Mossack Fonseca to establish companies or trusts came from Hong Kong (4,902), the United Kingdom (2,106) and the United States (1,540). Switzerland also played an important role, with at least 1,339 intermediaries setting up more than 34,000 offshore companies with Mossack Fonseca alone, Swissinfo reported.

The largest number of offshore companies were set up on the instruction of the law firm’s intermediary clients in Hong Kong, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.