Lawyer Glenn Godfrey named in Pandora Papers
BELIZE CITY, Sun October 3, 2021 – Today the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) released a wealth of documents detailing the tax evasion tactics and illicit use of offshore jurisdictions deployed by some of the people the richest and most powerful in the world. Considered the largest known journalistic collaboration in ICIJ history, the Pandora Papers exposed the offshore transactions of wealthy elites around the world.
Over 330 politicians, 130 Forbes billionaires and an array of well-known celebrities, fraudsters, drug dealers, royals and leaders of religious organizations are listed as those who use these offshore jurisdictions to hide their transactions. business and / or protect their assets. Belize, among other countries, is listed as a “tax and secret haven”.
The ICIJ said the confidential records were leaked by 14 offshore service providers. These companies form and manage offshore accounts and high net worth partnerships wishing to do business in non-tax jurisdictions. The owners conceal their identity and use these suppliers as frontmans.
Almost 2.94 terabytes of data leaked to the ICIJ, which then shared the data with international media. Documents include 6.4 million text documents, 4 million PDF files, passport files, bank statements, tax returns, company incorporation documents, real estate contacts and over 4.1 million images and emails.
An ICIJ article states: “While some of the files date from the 1970s, most of those reviewed by the ICIJ were created between 1996 and 2020. They cover a wide range of topics: the creation of front companies, foundations and trusts; the use of such entities to purchase real estate, yachts, jets and life insurance; their use to make investments and transfer money between bank accounts; estate planning and other estate matters; and tax evasion through complex financial schemes. Some documents are related to financial crimes, including money laundering.
The leaked documents offer, for the first time in history, a comprehensive overview of tax evasion and the use of secret jurisdictions by the world’s super elites to secure their wealth.
Prior to this recent release of the Pandora Papers, leaked documents such as the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers, which have been made public over the past two decades, have probed the use of offshore jurisdictions. It should be noted that after the publication of the Panama and Paradise documents, the EU chose to create a blacklist for countries that were operating outside the scope of the bloc’s financial collective agreements. Belize was blacklisted in 2018.
In October 2019, Belize’s International Trading Companies (IBC) law underwent massive restructuring, which resulted in Belize being blacklisted from the European Union’s non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes.
During the period from 1999, when the law was enacted, until the passage of the recent amendments, offshore companies and international companies registered in Belize operated with little or no oversight. They have been used for the benefit of foreign principals who wish to dodge taxes in their home country or eliminate illegal proceeds through money laundering.
The Barrow administration, under the leadership of the EU, has drafted and enacted a total of 6 laws additional to the IBC Law to bring the country into compliance with EU requirements. This desperate attempt to preserve the country’s overall financial reputation and prevent the collapse of its offshore sector was successful and Belize was removed from the EU’s blacklist.
The article published by the ICIJ, however, states: “The files contain an unprecedented amount of information on the alleged beneficial owners of entities registered in the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Hong Kong, Belize, Panama, South Dakota and other secret jurisdictions. . “
A Washington Post article on the Pandora Papers names Belizean lawyer Glenn Godfrey as one of the people believed to have been instrumental in setting up offshore accounts and trusts for criminals in the United States.
A video published by the Washington Post states, “The Pandora Papers also expose how American citizens move their money out of the country while facing expensive criminal investigations or lawsuits. This is where Glenn Godfrey comes in. His companies in Belize have established trusts, bank accounts, and corporations for a suspected murderer, a high-profile pedophile sex offender, a mafia associate linked to the Colombo crime family in New York, and a self-proclaimed constitutional scholar who has solicited the murder of a judge, a prosecutor and an IRS agent. Godfrey did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
A press release subsequently issued by Glenn D. Godfrey Co. LLP states: “Our attention has been drawn to a publication issued by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The post, while not alleging any criminal activity by our firm, casts general denigration that we were somehow negligent in screening potential clients before accepting them. The facts mentioned in the publication are said to have occurred around 2003. We wish to assure our clients, colleagues and the general public that in screening potential clients we have always complied with the letter and spirit of all applicable laws. . In accordance with best practices applicable then and still are today, we only accepted business referred to us by professional intermediaries, such as established law firms and accountants, and we we rely on due diligence investigations conducted by them and ourselves. research. Indeed, all the people mentioned in the report have long since ceased to be clients of our firm. We are ready to cooperate with any investigations, if any, that the authorities may deem appropriate. “
According to Taylor Fuller, who acts as the public relations representative for Glenn Godfrey Co. LLP and who issued the company’s press release, the ICIJ contacted the company prior to the publication and threatened to release the information if the requested documents were not transmitted. for them.
While tax havens are used by many businesses and individuals for legitimate purposes, these offshore trusts are sometimes used by criminals for illegal purposes. These include hiding assets from an authority, avoiding taxes, and securing funds illegally obtained in jurisdictions safe from questioning, and these trusts are sometimes even used by politicians to hide corrupt transactions. .
As mentioned, the Pandora Papers offer a broad overview of how the world’s wealthiest people have used countries like Belize to secure and maintain their wealth without the knowledge of the general public. In the coming weeks, more details of the leaked documents will be released, according to the ICIJ.
AMANDALA will continue to follow the developments of this story.