Famed British Lord Ashcroft’s Belize bank found out and fined $$$ millions in the ongoing Panama Papers scandal.
Since the release of the Panama Papers in 2016, many of the world’s richest people have been exposed for tax evasion. The Panama Papers are documents that reveal how offshore bank accounts are used to hide wealth. The documents showed that avoiding taxes was one of the main reasons for these accounts. Using this type of account makes it difficult to trace down the money.
One of the banks involved in the Panama Papers scandal was Belize Bank International (BBI). BBI is owned by Lord Ashcroft of Great Britain. In 2016, the Panama Papers leaked over 11 million files that showed wealthy people using offshore banks to hide their money. Lord Ashcroft denied being a part of this scandal. Despite his denial, BBI’s deposit rate dropped tremendously. According to The Guardian newspaper, BBI’s value of deposits “shrank by almost three-quarters in the space of just six months.” Some of the bank’s customers even had trouble making withdrawals. BBI claimed the whole ordeal was a “short-term problem” and denied that the bank was in crisis.
BBI is one of the many banks questioned in the Panama Papers tax evasion scandal. Most of these banks helped customers hide millions of dollars to avoid paying taxes. Many of them were located in African and Latin American countries like Belize. 40% of the Belize population lives in poverty while millions were being hidden in the country’s offshore accounts.
Ashcroft was also under suspicion because he was associated with Panamanian firm Mossack Fonseca. The Mossack Fonseca firm closed in 2018 after being exposed for helping tax evaders manage their offshore accounts. Ashcroft said the claims about business with Mossack Fonseca were “entirely false.” BBI closed all of its offshore accounts. The bank was also fined a $3.3 million court judgment.
ICIJ – The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.