Subscribe to Money Morning get daily headlines subscribe now! Money Morning Private Briefing today's private briefing Access Your Profit Alerts

Check Out Who's Hiding $32 Trillion in Offshore Accounts

More than two million emails that shed light on the biggest tax dodge in history – trillions of dollars hidden in offshore accounts – have been uncovered by the British newspaper The Guardian and the Washington, D.C.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

Some $32 trillion has been hidden in small island banking hubs which host a bevy of trust funds, shell corporations and other tax havens, the Tax Justice Network estimates.

This money is to the financial world what the Higgs boson and dark matter are to particle physics: It's tough to prove it's there, but the universe doesn't make much sense without it. It's just a matter of connecting the money to the people hiding it.

That's been a tall order… until now.

An Unprecedented Tax Dodge

Next to this bombshell, Wikileaks looks like a first-grader's game of Telephone.

In fact, the leak contains more than 200 gigabytes of data, compared with Wikileaks' two gigabytes.

Join the conversation. Click here to jump to comments…

  1. H. Craig Bradley | May 1, 2013


    Its not necessarily illegal to have an "offshore" bank account. Its only illegal if you do not declare it on your income tax return. In America, as a result of the Foreign Account Compliance Act of 2010 (FATCA) its now a Federal criminal offense (felony) not to report foreign accounts with a balance in excess of $10,000 even if there is no taxable gain or tax due. As the national debt grows, the more the government wants its share of the (shrinking) pie. Problem is, the pie is not getting larger.

    That's right, the Federal government now wants to know where All the money is and who has it. Furthermore, foreign banks are required to report to the IRS any gains on accounts of individuals with possible U.S. Tax accountability as well as balances. If you fail to report, plan on getting a lawyer and just maybe, taking acting lessons from actor-tax evader Wesley Snipes at Club Fed. The threat of imprisonment for merely failing to report is designed not only to deter but to be punative, as well.

    • Cory | May 1, 2013

      Yeah all the off shore accounts are just normal Americans try'n to store 1,00 buck in some obscure place just because they can. Yeah right. The reason they are of shore is to avoid taxes. The only reason they are off shore is to avoid taxes. That is the fundamental reason they are set up.

      • Mike | June 6, 2013

        "The only reason they are off shore is to avoid taxes."

        6 million Americans live in that glorious, beautiful place called "God Bless the Non-USA". That's at least 6 million Americans with legitimate reasons to have offshore accounts: you know, so that the boss can deposit the monthly salary payments, and so the utility company can be paid. Shock of shocks, these 6 million people normally have landlords who won't accept payment from US banks, or in US dollars.

        • James | April 25, 2014

          Two percent of American’s citizens have left America so they live and do business with freedom away from the new American despotism. Why, well first they made it almost impossible to do business in the states, except for foreign business who are given tax free status, in some cases for decades. This is why thousands of former American companies have moved manufacturing offshore. Companies like Apple whose one founder moved virtually all manufacturing to Asia while Apple's other founder renounced his citizenship seeking freedom from mafia like theft of his wealth. Unlike any other nation, just leaving is not enough. Then America’s despotic leaders have criminalized alleged tax debt. Liker Stalin and Hitler they proudly justify the killing of “freedom seeking” citizen who have fled the country. The regime has even passed laws making such killing of citizens, without due process or even proof legal for them to do. I truly hope that America wakes up and regains its freedom.

      • JUSTBNGME | December 15, 2016

        You ought to re read article it is not only Americans using offshore accounts

    • Leslie Belden | May 2, 2013

      Awesome, H. Craig. I didn't know about FATCA. Almost wish I didn't. Now I'm having visions of the next Black Tuesday, with the IRS making the first run on the banks.

    • Mike | June 6, 2013

      Mr. Bradley, you're eliding two things. There has long been a requirement to report overseas bank accounts with (collectively) more than $10,000 in assets. That is not new, and is not from FATCA. The form is called Form TD F 90-22.1 (popularly called F-Bar). It goes back to the early 1970s, and the penalties were stepped up toward the end of the Bush administration.

      FATCA is different, and comes later. Passed in 2010, it takes it up a whole notch, but the minimum threshold for reporting is higher: $50,000 for Americans who live in the USA, and up to $400,000/ $600,000 (last day/ any time of year) for couples who are legitimate expats.

    • Richard Stanley | July 13, 2013


      It stikes me that you should be so greedy to be looking at offshore accounts that belong to NON-US Citizens. Making your remarks twice and adding innuendo leading those who would believe could be confiscated by "our government" would allow that same government to issue $4600.00 checks to every man woman and child alive today in the world is a bit of exaggeration. Consider the real problem of overspending alone. Our country is about 16 trillion dollars in debt, not including unfunded liabilities. now do some math: 16 eex12/300 eex6 = $53,333.33 for every person in the United States. If one were to consider unfunded liabilities, estimates run from 200 to 211 Billion dollars. That's $200,000,000,000,000.00 to $210,000,000,000,000.00. Do the math again: 200 eex 12/ 300 eex 6 = $ 666,666,67 in debt for every man woman and child in this country. Don't you think this government should be reigned in, reduced in size and power so locals can persue life liberty and the persuit of happiness without starting wars everywhere and telling everybody what to do?

  2. Jacques Cousteau | May 1, 2013

    The fact is that it's essentially vapors holding this worth, and not actually being put to use. One person cannot command half of the world's wealth, let alone one hundred thousand. This is why the world is in poverty.

  3. radii | May 1, 2013

    Denise Rich's husband was one of the top spies for israel which is why he got to get off scot-free … most of these mega-wealthy are involved in money-laundering and insider-trading, much worse than simple tax-dodging … many of them deserve prison for any number of reasons as do the bribed governments of Cayman Islands and other such "tax havens"

  4. Justin C | May 1, 2013

    In a world with real justice, all these people would be hanged and their wealth invested into renewable energy sources and fighting poverty.

    That is all.

  5. Hugh Mayron | May 1, 2013

    Offshore Accounts of peace.

  6. Jack | May 2, 2013

    Of course, you can pay taxes on your money, and THEN move it into a foreign bank account, if you are worried about the stability of the dollar. OR(and this is a big difference!) you can hold the money offshore WITHOUT paying tax on it. So, how much of the $32 trillion is held offshore to AVOID taxation? And what does that do to the US Treasury?

  7. CP | May 2, 2013

    All you have to do is read the book, "The Rich and the Super Rich" by Ferdinand Lundberg. That's all you have to do. End of story. None of our ranting and raving means anything to them. Actually, we don't mean anything to them.

    • Leslie Belden | May 2, 2013

      Absolutely, CP. I'm off to order the book. Thanks.

      • CP | May 22, 2013

        Were you able to obtain a copy of the book? It has been out of print for some time, but you can still buy older copies online. There were 2 versions. 1968 and an updated 1988 version, with highlighted changes of the first copy. It is a SUPER book. You will never look at the world the same way ever again. The only election you will ever bother yourself with, again, will be local elections. We need to control the local officials that affect our everyday lives, more so than worry about DC, because DC just doesn't matter. It is beyond our control.

  8. Chuck Thompson | May 2, 2013

    It makes no difference. If the source of the wealth is discovered, it will dissappear into the hands of governments, who will squander the taxes and transfer the remains to their latest "privileged few" list. I am one of the 99 percenters, who has lived a lifetime of seeing scandal after scandal exposed… hoping someone would do the right thing and distribute the wealth to the poor and downtrodden, only to see nothing reach those who could truly be helped (myself included). Sorry, gents…its all just a shell game, the three-card monty of life.

    • 747 | May 2, 2013

      Great observation Chuck……"the individual has only one fear in this life and that is the Governments of this world…." ..that keep us as 'wage-slaves' til the end of our earthly lives…

  9. dourdan | May 2, 2013

    What is the Cayman Islands?

  10. Ray Lang | May 2, 2013

    Lets get out the guillotines and lop off a few heads — Start with the Koch Brothers, George Bush, Lush Rimbaugh and the Nra — then take a break and watch if the message has got across to Congress. If not, oil up the Guillotine again — there are plenty of rich tax evaders around to keep us busy for years!!!

    • daniel d. darson | May 2, 2013

      Sorry, Ray seems to think it's all republicans. Good luck with that assumption.

    • housemom1952 | May 5, 2013

      How about starting with Obama and George Soros?

    • Oscar Hardaway | July 2, 2013

      Sorry Ray, your life is a sordid mess. You really need to return from where you are to "Realville". Start with expansion of your "low information" knowledge level, and expand your search for real knowledge and information. I and others could help you but you appear to have polarized yourself so deeply that nothing real can penetrate. It's low and distorted information voters that have caused the spiraling down of our great nation. Good luck Ray, because voters like you are bent on destroying the USA, and I for one have taken financial steps toward insulation – fore one – live in Texas! With kindness and sympathetic regards, Oscar

  11. Leslie Belden | May 2, 2013

    I don't think They plan to keep us as wage-slaves forever. It's too hard to control mobs of revolutionaries with walkers, so They have Monsanto on the case.

  12. Jeff Pluim | May 3, 2013

    Wow, I can hardly believe the comments on this article. You'd think that it was written in some socialist rag and that the readership was venting. Have you all forgotten about what just happened in Cyprus? Have you all forgotten about all of the talk about the United States' government confiscating retirement savings plans and issuing its own form of retirement pension with mega-printed-useless dollars? Have you all forgotten that that is exactly what happened in Argentina? Just exactly how are all of you commentators going to protect your stash when it comes time for the government to start confiscating your dough in order to cover their years and years of reckless spending? Money fleeing from France's socialists is not going to go and deposit in America's socialist regime. It is going to find somewhere that is safe. And the same is happening all over the world as people get tired of socialism's creeping theft.
    The socialist bent of these comments is truly amazing.

    • Carlos | May 5, 2013

      Excellent coment Jeff. I agree 100%. I can´t believe people defend taxes and governments who only increase them and spend them inadequately to say the least. If anyone has the possibility of not paying taxes, they should use it. The problem is that is very difficult for the salary worker to do. Lowering taxes on salary would be great for the economy, but very unlikely to be done by any government.

    • brokelibertarian | May 8, 2013

      Indeed. Yeah, lets ferret out these accounts and confiscate the lion's share for the USG so Queen Moochelle Obama can have another 14 million dollars in vacations on somebody's elses money.

      On Denise Rich: The Clintons came to DC with next to nothing and are now mega rich. Was that the payoff for pardoning Israeli spy Marc Rich?

    • SEMLAK09935 | June 27, 2013

      Our problem is not with socialism, but Mussolini-type of fascism where business interests have government in their hip pockets. Corporate America has bought the best government they can buy. With all the money that's been printed, who has it? Where did it go? Those billions in off-shore accounts could be used to build better infrastructure, which benefits everyone and especially businesses. If that's socialism, then give me all you've got!

      Don Quixote

  13. Lemmings | May 3, 2013

    Unfortunately the world belongs to cunning people that take and eat our lunch. We are lemmings they control. Is reality.

  14. Kent Greenough | May 5, 2013

    I am utterly amazed to hear these idiots argue the governments' case, "It is their money!" Theirs by theft, lies, illegal laws, coercion, and brute force. Don't you idiots understand the concept of liberty, the ability to choose for one's self? To do for one's self. That is not selfishness dolts, that is self reliance, not government reliance. What a concept. How about they keep their failed programs, which is to say all of them, and I will keep my money, pay my bills and give to those I care about, not the groups the government panders to and loots for. Redistribution of wealth is not a governmental function. Find a word of it in the Constitution. The ability to tax yes. For social welfare programs, not a peep- Bribing politicians with tax dollars is what is immoral, not trying to keep what you worked for. What sick, twisted people we have lurking in this country. Class envy at its finest. This is what results from socialist public indoctrination masquerading as education. Oh, yes, the government knows what is best for us! Yeah, right. How about just leaving us alone. Let's try that for the next twenty years and compare the results to the last 100 years of magnificent central planning, you know, the people who brought you the post office, bankrupt, FHA, bankrupt, FDIC, bankrupt, Medicare/Medicaid, bankrupt, Freddie/Fannie, bankrupt, Social Security, bankrupt, Obamacare, bankrupt, and on and on and on it goes. I say let's try liberty and self reliance for a change.

  15. Ed the Grocer | May 5, 2013

    Hmm..Question? Is fiat money hidden in a hole in the ground ( off-shore bank ) really money? If it isn't in use, it isn't money. Remember, we now know that all governments understand that they can print or borrow at less than i% which means that money is only as good as to the use of it. If this money was pulled out of the economy and nothing really happened, it ( the money ) was obviously surplus to the economy. Right? If it ( removed money ) was critical to the economy, it doesn't matter because the government/banks merely put some more money into the system to replace the missing money at virtually no cost to the public. And, the new money coming into the economy via the government is going to important things such as food stamps and bombs not yachts and hookers. The only things to worry about is liquidity ( can the banks meet the overnight settlements ) and what is the government doing with the new money ( building a new nation or dropping bombs on some other poor bastards ).

  16. Bumba clot | May 5, 2013

    I work way way to hard for my freaking money and am just a small fry, but can you blame someone for stashing their money ? Take a good hard look at Europe and how that socialist model is working out! The government wants more and more and you can bet your sweet backside that tax rates in The USA will have to increase as the federal government spends us into oblivion. The fundamental question everyone needs to ask themselves is "who can more effectively spend your money to satisfy your needs yourself or the government."

    • Jay | May 6, 2013

      What we all need to think about is our personal worth. What if tomorrow all paper money is useless? What can you as a person give in exchange for things you will need to survive? If the world goes back to the basic needs, what will your contribution be. Can you provide or help create food, clothing, or shelter? Are you a protector? Can you fix mechanisms? What will make us useful?

      • Khalil | May 7, 2013

        Yours Jay has been the most enlightning response, I agree, it's not about what, it's about how. One Earth, one People.

  17. Kapt Blasto | May 7, 2013

    The tax dodge is easy to explain….

    When Governments think it can have the money YOU EARNED from someone or something ELSE, for whatever justification or reason….then NO ONE is SAFE…period!

    the problem being is, with regards to the Monetary system, here in the States, is that the whole interaction between the BANK and the GOVERNMENT is turned around, and the TAX POWER gets turned against the WRONG SOURCE(S), making potential Criminals out of even the homeless person living in a cardboard box off the street, with only a picked-up penny to their name.

    See as long as Government can sit there and say "OH! We're SOOOO BROKE!" or "We're SOOOO MUCH IN DEBT"
    then it really doesn't matter whether calls for TAX HIKES or SPEND CUTS get done….it's all a sham.

    For if one got up and said, "OH! Well we need to TAX THE RICH, because they're *getting away with murder*"

    Well, Guess What? Even if on paper the Government could report that they were only a PENNY in the RED….then that makes even the homeless guy, with only a penny in their hands….RICH.

    So you can probably figure out what the REALLY RICH have to do, not to be THAT POOR SCHMUCK, and by design, everyone else in between!

    Now let's take a look at another one, who gets up, sees the same situation the first guy sees, and says "OH! Well we need to *tighten the fiscal belt* and be *responsible* with our money that the taxpayers *voluntarily* give us!"

    Heh heh heh….know what that poor homeless schmuck knows beyond knowing that's code for, right?

    PROGRAMS that help him get a hand up…..well, they're the FIRST ONES to get threatened with the AX.

    And I suppose you can figure out what the REALLY RICH have to do, not to get ensnared in that setup, either, right? As well as, by design, everyone ELSE in between!

    Here's what might be something that would get you readers, (reading this comment, if you got this far,) begin to start removing, what a friend of mine terms, STINKING THINKING….and with hope, get you start WORKING SMART…instead of SO HARD all the time…

    In this country we have a CHECK AND BALANCE between our CENTRAL BANK and our GOVERNMENT.

    No NEW MONEY can come into being and circulate unless GOVERNMENT interacts with an OTHER (that would be the BANK) to FIRST HAVE THAT MONEY CREATED, and it's that OTHER (being the BANK) that distributes that newly made money.

    This CHECK-AND-BALANCE PRINCIPLE, first adopted by Congress in the 1793 Coinage Act, had GOLD and SILVER species holders submit to the Mint, for the Mint to fashion "HARD CURRENCY" in certain grains and sizes for these specie holders to take finished coin from the mint, and spend or lend it themselves. And this seemed like a great system, except for a few things, and here's one:

    Suppose the price of GOLD OR SILVER skyrocketed in trading within the marketplace, the next day after any gold or silver specie holder walked into the mint, to fashion their specie into "HARD CURRENCY" coins?

    With an accompanying law that forbade defacement or "coin clipping," the specie submitter was out of luck, only able to see his gold or silver turned into ONE DOLLAR COINS, and that same amount of grain was trading for maybe $4 that day….

    Plus, only the MINT was the final arbitror over whether there WAS ENOUGH GRAINS of PURE STUFF, in the specie submittals….no matter how many vouches from Banks over how much came along with it…too many accounts of claim jumping, lead in the lumps, and corruption about OUT THERE….and who's to say there wasn't CORRUPTION on the INSIDE?

    That's one of the Reasons WHY THE CENTRAL BANK was MADE, replacing the submitters, and replacing GOLD and SILVER (per se) with LAW FIAT that BANKS could be assured that the DOLLAR THEY GOT, couldn't be questioned as whether or not it was REALLY a DOLLAR (Certain 14th Amendment, Section 4 applications at work, here, believe it or not!)

    It's so that anyone receiving said currency for payment of goods and services Can be assured of TWO THINGS, at least: ONE: that neither the GOV'T, nor the OTHER (being the Central Bank) debauched the currency, and that TWO: the currency was a piece of LAW that can be passed on AT FULL STRENGTH, anywhere under the Government's (or the BANK's) jurisdiction, for all debts public and private, as LEGAL TENDER.

    And the way that Central Bank was designed to make its money, keeps it OFF the Congressional Budget, and therefore OFF the Controls from Congress that being ON the Congressional Budget brings, so by design, it can LEGALLY say that it is a PRIVATE ENTITY, SEPARATE FROM THE GOVERNMENT (Congress proper!) which, preserves the whole CHECK AND BALANCE apparatus.

    But here lies the slow-acting fatal flaw with the Fix: The WRONG ONE between the two, became the DEBTOR, and the other the CREDITOR.

    It's like a slow leak in the tire, you don't notice it, at first, but after a while another pinhole, and another…and pretty soon you're running on RIMS, hearing the flop-flop-flop of FLATS, and you're supposed to go uphill, like Sisyphus with that boulder, every day. It ain't gonna work! You'll never get up the hill, and down the other side, like you're supposed to!

    So what to do? Well, maybe we don't have ONE wrinkle to worry about: unlike Gold/Silver Submitters having to be the one initiating contact with the Mint, in the Coinage Act…In the Federal Reserve Act the interaction can be initiatied from either side….

    So here's what I was initially thinking….If we calculated the entire yearly amount that Government needs to optimally operate, as a sort of interest payment of 0.25% then what we could do is THIS….

    We TAX THE BANK ITSELF, at $1.75 Quadrillion, and we let the BANK issue a promissory note back to the Treasury, Borrowing the money, to pay the TAX, where once hands were shook on it, the Treasury could deposit THAT back into the Bank as a kind of deposit, which would replace the Treasury Certificates being put in as the base, that all the notes the Fed "bought" from the Private Sector, stack in a certain way, on top of.


  18. Guardian | May 22, 2013

    Obama has some too, just not in his name.

  19. Attila | June 3, 2013

    Most of this is there legally, since the US is the only (civilized?) country that taxes its citizens on money earned outside the country. These are the moans of greedy politicians who always want more money to buy votes with.

  20. Steve | June 5, 2013

    Biden paid 23% federal tax in 2012. he and his wife earned about 300,000. Obama paid 18% federal tax and earned almost 700,000 dollES. My wife and I reported 211,000 in total income (including about 100,000 from my IRA. I had to pay 28% in federal taxes….more than our president and Vice President. It6 is not a fair tax structure. My CPA can't explain it but says I could start a foundation to avoid taxes. Our tax code is similar to car dealers tactics…every person pays a different price. makes no sense.
    General Electric has employed an army of tax experts for many years to minimize their taxes. Why does no one question what they do? Our fat cat politicians will only realize how badly they have screwed the American public when we take their authority away and return it to the will of the people. We should all be willing to fight for what is right. Perhaps we can do it thru the ballot box, but foolish citizens keep returning ineffective lifetime politicians to office. It may take some form(s) of a revolution to stop our government from overspending and to create fair taxes for all of us. The government is not representing our citizenry to the best of it's ability. Far from it, our government is a huge hungry machine that continues to gobble up more and more of our hard earned money. Congress is ineffective and has only managed to further their own largess and personal wealth. The current executive branch is a total disappointment and is out of touch with just about everything America stands for. Time for a major correction…perhaps a revolution.

  21. Don McCallum | June 11, 2013

    The directors of the FED (all of them) should be the first to take a ride in the tumbril to Madame Guillotine.

  22. Buck OFama | July 16, 2013

    The Colbertian state itches to stretch its tentacles into our pockets, wherever those may be. And why should we give a rat's socialist end for every man, woman and child living "everywhere on earth"?!?

  23. belize company offshore | November 19, 2014

    So the only drawback is that something which is awesome because that's a good reputation for telling it as a offshore company non-resident company.
    It is also known as Readymade Company, which take the help of CCLOGIC Ltd
    today about how we need to prepare audited accounts. With growing interest
    in Singapore makes a difference? For example, it is relatively uncomplicated.
    With the trend for earning maximum profits from these applications
    will save you time and will be paying 30% corporate income
    tax returns and measurement goals.

  24. Annonomous | August 22, 2015

    The icij, the guardian, and almost every supposed watch dog group out there are merely political tools made to appear as if they are really unbiased. …. the Guardian and the icij are merely tools of the corrupt Chicago gangster demonrat party. They sort thru such piles of information which they gained illegally using govt resources and agencies this info is from the NSA ….
    Even though recently the courts decided the govt has NO RIGHT concerning communications they are still violating the law using NSA AND IRS AS WELL AS MANY OTHER GOVT agencies

    Their reasoning is they will hide deny lie and fight if they get caught …. KILARY hid her hard drive destroyed evidence deny's lies and there you have it …..

    The mafia breaks the law then uses the other laws to protect themselves. ….. that is the Clinton mafia

  25. mikey | September 29, 2015

    you guys finally found some money? i created over 50 monopolies world wide… and over 30 offshore accounts…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Some HTML is OK