The newest “biggest leak in history,” as it is being deemed, has linked at least 8 top Chinese officials – including President Xi Jinping – to offshore deals through associates.
The investigation has had hundreds of journalists from 78 countries pouring through nearly 40 years of records, equating to approximately 11 million leaked documents from one of the largest offshore law firms. The Panamanian law firm at the center of the investigation, Mossack Fonseca, has been described as the fourth-largest provider of offshore services in the world.
The confidential documents, now known as “the Panama Papers”, were given by an anonymous source to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, and were then shared to world media by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Although holding offshore accounts is not illegal, they are oftentimes used for illegal means, including money laundering and tax evasion.
The 8 current or former Chinese power-figures from the Politburo Standing Committee – the CCP’s dominant political body – are among 140 political actors worldwide allegedly connected to the accounts.
Included those revealed in the investigation is the brother-in-law of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Deng Jiagui, husband of President Xi’s older sister Qi Qiaoqiao, was indicated in the documents as setting up two British Virgin Island shell companies in 2009, using them to conceal his fortune.
In 2012, Bloomberg news agency published a separate investigation revealing that Mr. Deng and his wife had amassed several hundreds of millions of dollars in company shares and property assets.
The investigation’s findings draw a spotlight on the highly politicized issue of wealth among China’s power-elite.
When Xi came to power in November 2012, he started a bold initiative that pushed for transparency of his country’s ruling authority figures. He created a massive anti-graft campaign focused on cleaning the CCP’s ranks of corruption and reasserting his own authority. Xi’s move jeopardized his reputation, because doing so went against the unwritten rule that that a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee cannot not be investigated.
The fact that several members of the Politburo Standing Committee are linked to the “Biggest Leak in History” only goes to show that the “efforts” made by President Xi to crackdown on government corruption are a fallacy.
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