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Financial Fraud Law

China’s Top Leaders Have Secret Offshore Accounts, ICIJ Reports

 Close relatives of China’s top leaders have secret offshore companies in tax havens that help shroud the Communist elite’s wealth, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The group said it based its findings on a leaked cache of documents.

According to the ICIJ, the confidential files included details of a real estate company co-owned by current President Xi Jinping’s brother-in-law and British Virgin Islands companies set up by former Premier Wen Jiabao’s son and also by his son-in-law.

The ICIJ said that nearly 22,000 offshore clients with addresses in mainland China and Hong Kong appeared in the files obtained by the ICIJ. Among them, the ICIJ said, were some of China’s most powerful men and women — including at least 15 of China’s richest, members of the National People’s Congress, and executives from state-owned companies entangled in corruption scandals.

According to the ICIJ, the records showed that PricewaterhouseCoopers, UBS, and other Western banks and accounting firms played a “key role” as middlemen in helping Chinese clients set up trusts and companies in the British Virgin Islands, Samoa, and other offshore centers usually associated with hidden wealth. For instance, the ICIJ said, Swiss financial giant Credit Suisse helped Wen Jiabao’s son create his BVI company while his father was leading the country.

The ICIJ said that the files came from two offshore firms, Singapore-based Portcullis TrustNet and BVI-based Commonwealth Trust Limited, that helped clients create offshore companies, trusts, and bank accounts. The documents were part of a cache of 2.5 million leaked files that ICIJ said it has sifted through with help from more than 50 reporting partners in Europe, North America, Asia, and other regions.

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