A handful of diamond and jewelry industry figures made appearances in the first publications of the Pandora Papers – the massive data leak from offshore tax havens overseen by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Like the Panama Papers – which until now was the biggest offshore information leak – the Pandora Papers are likely to spawn countless stories, as the ICIJ and its media partners decide to release more data. The consortium said it plans to incorporate much of Pandora’s information into its offshore leak database.
So far, the most well-known figures in the industry who have appeared in the articles from the link – Beny Steinmetz and Purvi Modi, sister of diamond dealer Nirav – have already faced legal issues. (Steinmetz, an Israeli diamond trader and mine owner, was convicted of bribery in January; Purvi has been mentioned in cases referring to her brother’s alleged scheme to defraud the Punjab National Bank.)
According to The time of Israel, documents show that in 2018, Steinmetz and his children decided to transfer around $ 1 billion from a Lichtenstein-based fund to a Cook Islands fund, citing the fund’s poor performance.
Steinmetz did not comment on the transfer, the newspaper said.
Indian express reported that Purvi Modi set up a corporate trust in the British Virgin Islands about a month before his brother Nirav fled India in January 2018.
The records also show that Purvi and his brother Neeshal are the beneficial owners of three companies in the British Virgin Islands, according to the newspaper. Although he said Purvi has faced charges in her brother’s case, she “has now become an approver and will likely escape prosecution because [an Indian] the court pardoned her on condition of full and true disclosure. His law firm has denied any wrongdoing.
According to the ICIJ, the newspapers also revealed that Denis Sassou-Nguesso, the current president of the Republic of Congo, controls a complex web of offshore entities that leads to the company that controls his country’s diamond production.
The ICIJ wrote that Congo’s longtime leader owns Inter African Investment Ltd., a firm established in the British Virgin Islands in 1998, a year after Sassou-Nguesso began his second term as head of the country. This company owned another British Virgin Islands company, Ecoplan Finance Ltd., which in turn is the majority shareholder of Escom Congo, a construction and real estate company that owns the rights to the country’s diamond mines, said the group.
The ICIJ explained the Pandora Papers leak in more detail here.
(Photo: Getty Images)
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