On Oct. 3, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and its affiliates began publishing stories about the Pandora Papers—a trove of 2.94 terabytes of data comprising some 11.9 million records, reportedly exposing the finances of the world’s wealthy elite.
The Pandora Papers follow the ICIJ’s 2016 Panama Papers and 2017 Paradise Papers investigations. The earlier exposes were largely based on leaked data from single firms – the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca in the first instance, and the offshore service provider Appleby in the second case.
But this time, the data undergirding the Pandora Papers reportedly comes from 14 major financial service providers across numerous jurisdictions.
This has fueled speculation that the data was derived from a sophisticated hacking operation, possibly one with the backing of Western intelligence agencies.
“The idea that there are 14 trust companies around the world whose data was simultaneously handed over to the ICIJ or members of the same network, suggests to me a government intelligence agency with a lot of resources behind this, or a group of high-net-worth individuals who have it in their mind that the ‘one percent’ needs to pay their share,” Martin Kenney, an attorney in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), told The Epoch Times.
With the BVI being one of the main subjects of numerous ICIJ investigations, Kenney and his colleagues have frequently criticized those reporters over the years.
When it comes to criticizing the Pandora Papers, the BVI and other tax haven attorneys are joined by unlikely allies from the progressive left. On Twitter, numerous left-leaning pundits and reporters questioned why the ICIJ’s reporting has mostly focused on leaders from developing countries while leaving the Western power elite unscathed.
“What a coincidence that there are zero U.S. politicians included in the Pandora Papers list of offshore bank accounts. I guess they’re all pure and free from corruption!” said Ben Norton, an assistant editor at The Gray Zone, poking fun at the ICIJ’s exposes.
The relatively centrist Brookings Institution has also questioned the source of ICIJ’s data. After the Panama Papers revelations in 2016, a writer for Brookings suggested that the reports could be part of an info wars between Russia and the United States.