Pandora’s Box

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The world is in for a surprise as many new names are surfacing in the ‘Pandora Papers’. We call it a surprise as a few names have come up, which definitely comes as a shock for many. The whole nation has been set abuzz by the ‘Pandora Papers’, leaked files of the hidden wealth of some of the world’s richest people, their money stashed in offshore accounts in tax havens. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ), a group of global investigative journalists, worked to unearth the files that have as many as 380 Indian names in it. From Sachin Tendulkar to actor Jackie Shroff; businesswoman Kiran Mazumdar-Shah to Anil Ambani, and Niira Radia some of the biggest Indian names have been doing rounds now after the expose.

Interestingly, this is not the first time that the country has witnessed such gross offshore hidden wealth of individuals. Earlier, it was ‘Paradise Papers’, ‘Panama Papers’, etc that saw many big names being exposed for tax evasion in their respective countries. This time the big fat names are tumbling out of Pandora, of paragons of honesty and integrity, men of character. Offshore accounts are of people who want to keep their money away from scrutiny. Of people who do not want to pay taxes. Of people who have shady dealings. About people who want to take intricate routes to hoard wealth because all or part of it is ill-gotten. A lot of planning goes into such offshore money stacking. A whole special ecosystem is created to hide stashed wealth including setting up shell companies, giving hoax names, and providing false addresses.

The Pandora Papers are nearly 12 million files that disclose stashed wealth, tax evasion, even money laundering, by hundreds of thousands of the world’s stinking rich. It took some 700 journalists from 117 countries to read through tonnes of the unearthed files, only to be told now by those with the offshore accounts that they were not doing hanky-panky but are solid salt of the earth types! Surely, somebody in authority ought to take the broom and sweep them out from under the carpet. Fact is, many governments have started the process to bring these to account even though not all names have been disclosed, yet. The more than 140 media organizations involved in the Pandora operation are doing the disclosures to an agreed process. Each country has its own set of Pandora Papers! Indian names include Sachin Tendulkar, proclaimed as ‘The God of Cricket’ by a billion-plus people. The Bharat Ratna award winner cracked multiple centuries and made billions of lucrative dollars. “Multiple IPL teams, an ex-chief of military intelligence and a cricket superstar — these are a few whose financial secrets were exposed by Pandora Papers…,” the Indian Express, which is part of the ICIJ, said on the data linked to India. Additionally, there are 330 politicians from 90 countries whose files are up for disclosure. This expose comes at a time when the country seems to be disappointed and frustrated about the tall claims of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring back black money from foreign offshore banks. However, that is another story. The story now is that of the Pandora Papers and about the Indians figuring in them.

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