More than 370 Metro Vancouver addresses are included in a database of offshore companies and trusts made available today (May 9).
The information was released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in the form of a searchable website and a dataset available for download in CSV format.
It’s part of a larger cache of leaked documents dubbed the “Panama Papers”.
Information described as the Panama Papers relates to offshore companies and bank accounts linked to Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm that specializes in secret offshore investments.
But the database includes information from several sources. The Panama Papers is just the largest and more-recent addition.
The database also covers previously released documents related to two other offshore-services providers named Portcullis Trustnet (now Portcullis) and Commonwealth Trust Limited.
The data released today is broken into subsets by country. For Canada, there are 912 entities and 1,312 addresses.
Of those, a cursory search reveals 202 addresses in the City of Vancouver, 65 in Richmond, 32 in Burnaby, 31 in West Vancouver, 16 in Surrey, 11 in Coquitlam and Port Coquitlam, eight in North Vancouver, four in Delta, four in Langley, three in New Westminster, and three in White Rock.
Each of those addresses is matched with corresponding information such as related people and entities.
Here are a few examples selected at random:
A company registered to a seventh-floor unit at 618 Abbott Street in downtown Vancouver is associated with Alexander Fedorov.
Another company, registered to a suite on the nineteenth floor of 885 West Georgia Street, is listed alongside the name Wang Wan Ping.
A third, registered to a fifth-floor unit at 535 Thurlow Street, includes the names Edward and Sarah Petre-Mears.
None of those individuals have been accused of any wrongdoing.
The use of an offshore bank is not illegal and does not necessarily suggest someone is committing a crime. However, legal firms like Mossack Fonseca can be used to help individuals and corporations hide money from governments that might otherwise have a right to claim taxes on it.
The Panama Papers leak was shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists more than a year ago. Reporters with more than 100 media outlets began publishing stories based on the leaked information earlier this year, on April 4.
Two Canadian outlets worked with the consortium of reporters that analyzed the raw data. Those were the Toronto Star and CBC News.
A Star editorial explained the documents’ importance this way:
“The Star and our partners, including France’s Le Monde, Britain’s Guardian and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, are publishing this material not because we believe something illegal is happening, but because we think Canadians should know about how the elite hide and shelter so much money,” it reads. “The rich get to play by different rules than the rest of us. We should all know about this unfairness.”
People in positions of power linked to offshore accounts by the release of the documents include Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, among others.
The leak consists of 2.6 terabytes of information consisting of 11.5 million documents. There are 26 Forbes-listed billionaires on the list.