We are expecting a comprehensive list by the end of this week, but the partial leaking of lists of directors and shareholders of companies in the secretive offshore tax, banking and corporate-regulation haven of the British Virgin Islands has already caused waves with the campaign manager for French president Francois Hollande being forced to reveal his business relationship with a Chinese partner, and a Mongolian politician saying he might have to resign. The partial and full lists are/should be, available here.
But in Ireland, we know that the BVI has been a destination of choice for Irish property developers, as well as businessmen and women generally. After all, its (hitherto!) secrecy and tax regime have been attracting such titans of Irish business as the (Sean) Quinn family and Ray Grehan. A BVI registered company is after NAMAed Paddy Kelly, now in Florida. There is nothing illegal or untoward about incorporating BVI companies, but there are long-held suspicions that the secrecy provided by the BVI has been abused. You cannot generally find out the shareholders, directors or financial information of companies incorporated in the BVI, it’s all hidden behind nominees like BVI solicitors. This leaking has changed all that.
The Revenue Commissioners and NAMA will be just two state agencies chomping at the bit to get their hands on the lists which might expose omissions in tax returns and disclosures of assets. NAMA has already reported two developers to the Gardai, apparently for false statements made in connection with business plans, which you might recall required developers (and sometimes their spouses) to provide sworn affidavits. NAMA has engaged lawyers in the BVI previously.