A handful of diamond and jewelry industry figures have made appearances in the initial releases from the Pandora Papers—the massive leak of data from offshore tax havens overseen by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Like the Panama Papers—which up until now was the largest leak of offshore info—the Pandora Papers will likely spawn countless stories, as the ICIJ and its media partners decide to release more data. The consortium has said it plans to incorporate much of the Pandora info into its Offshore Leaks Database.
For now, the best-known industry figures that have appeared in articles stemming from the link—Beny Steinmetz and the Purvi Modi, the sister of diamond trader Nirav—have already faced legal issues. (Steinmetz, an Israeli diamond trader and mine owner, was found guilty of bribery in January; Purvi has been mentioned in cases referencing her brother’s alleged scheme to defraud Punjab National Bank.)
According to The Times of Israel, documents show that, in 2018, Steinmetz and his children decided to transfer around $1 billion from a Lichtenstein-based fund to one in the Cook Islands, citing the fund’s bad performance.
Steinmetz had no comment on the transfer, the newspaper said.
The Indian Express reported that Purvi Modi set up a corporate trust in the British Virgin Islands about a month before her brother Nirav fled India in January 2018.
The records also show that Purvi and her brother Neeshal are beneficial owners of three firms in the British Virgin Islands, the newspaper said. While it stated that Purvi has faced charges in her brother’s case, she “has now turned approver and is likely to escape prosecution as [an Indian] court has pardoned her on the condition of full and true disclosure.” Her law firm denied any wrongdoing.
According to ICIJ, the papers also revealed that Denis Sassou-Nguesso, the current president of the Republic of Congo, controls a complex network of offshore entities that leads to the company that controls his country’s diamond production.
The ICIJ wrote that the Congo’s longtime leader owns Inter African Investment Ltd., a company established in the British Virgin Islands in 1998, a year after Sassou-Nguesso began his second term as the country’s ruler. That company owned another British Virgin Islands company, Ecoplan Finance Ltd., which in turn has been a majority shareholder in Escom Congo, a construction and real estate firm that holds the rights to the country’s diamond mines, the group said.
ICIJ explained more about the Pandora Papers leak here.
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