For months now journalists at the Flemish daily De Tijd, the Flemish weekly Knack and the Francophone daily Le Soir have been involved in an investigation conducted by the ICIJ, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, together with over 600 journalists representing 150 media outlets worldwide.
Despite the efforts of the Belgian authorities to prevent offshore tax avoidance 1,217 Belgians stand accused of such practices. 1,215 mailbox companies and trusts were established in tantalising holiday destinations like the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the Seychelles and Belize.
Thirty Belgians already implicated in earlier research into financial irregularities, the Panama Papers, are back in the picture. De Tijd reports that Belgium’s “richest families” are involved in the Pandora Papers as well as “a crime novelist, a surgeon, a university lecturer, the owner of an investors’ guide, a Brussels rapper, a radio presenter, IT experts as well as a prince of royal blood”. The names of drug gangsters also feature.
This set of Belgians stand accused of using offshore constructions to launder crime money or hide undeclared earnings, to avoid taxes on company profits or private gains, to avoid inheritance tax or even purchase a luxury yacht on the cheap.