Taiwan accounted for the largest number of offshore clients using two firms in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) as tax havens to hide their wealth, with an estimated NT$280 billion (US$9.23 billion) being stashed overseas over the past 10 years, a report said.
A two-year investigation project by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) examined about 2.5 million leaked documents on offshore accounts from two firms in the British Virgin Islands and lists 37,000 names from Taiwan, China and Hong Kong.
Among the names — in addition to about 70,000 names from the rest of the world published in June last year — nearly 22,000 listed addresses are in China and Hong Kong, and about 16,000 from Taiwan, the ICIJ said.
ICIJ deputy director Marina Walker Guevara was quoted by the Chinese-language bimonthly CommonWealth Magazine, a partner outlet of the ICIJ, as saying that she found it intriguing why there were more people from Taiwan setting up trusts and companies in tax havens than from Hong Kong, China or Macau.
According to CommonWealth Magazine, the number of offshore clients from Taiwan of the two BVI firms was 1.35 times higher than that of Hong Kong and 1.8 times that of China.
The ICIJ allows the public to explore its Offshore Leaks Database at http://offshoreleaks.icij.org/search, which contains more than 100,000 secret companies, trusts and funds created in offshore locales such as the BVI, the Cayman Islands, the Cook Islands and Singapore, the organization said on its Web Site.
Identifying the people who play a role in an entity in the tax havens or those who help a client set up an entity is relatively difficult since their names are written in Romanized form, not Chinese characters.
However, the magazine has identified some of the clients from Taiwan — including Want Want Group (旺旺集團), Fubon Group (富邦集團), Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團), Shin Kong Group (新光集團), King’s Town Construction Co (京城建設), Delta Electronics Inc (台達電), Standard Foods (佳格企業), Koo’s Group (和信集團), Chinatrust Group (中信集團), UDN news group (聯合報系), Daphne (達芙妮) and GSK Group (全興國際集團).
Assuming that about 70 percent of the profit earned by Taiwanese enterprises in China over the past 10 years, or NT$162.8 billion, was not repatriated and that the amount of Taiwanese investment in China is 1.4 times higher than in all other countries, CommonWealth Magazine estimated that Taiwanese enterprises have hidden NT$116.2 billion in untaxed earnings from overseas excluding China during the period.
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