Businessman Hans Thulin is one of scores of Swedes shown to have accounts or businesses in known tax havens. Thulin went bankrupt in 1991 with considerable debts.
Between the years 2005 and 2008, he and a business partner put up several foundations in the Cook Islands. Fokus also found that he had wired 12 million euros to Switzerland in 2008.
The Swedish Export Credit Corporation (Svenskt Exportkredit – SEK) recently recalled a request to the Enforcement Agency (Kronofogden) to collect one of Thulin’s debts.
SEK has declined to comment on why it retracted the request.
Swedish news magazine Fokus was one of the partners sifting through a massive stash of information leaked from several known tax haves.
“Offshore companies do not have to be tied to any irregularities, even though they are often used in conjunction with criminal activity,” Fokus wrote on Tuesday.
The sweeping examination of documents took place under the aegis of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). Journalists in 46 countries have scoured documents belonging to offshore companies in known tax havens such as the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and the Cook Islands.
The ICIJ was less cautious in its description of offshore companies than Fokus was.
“The mega-rich use complex offshore structures to own mansions, yachts, art masterpieces, and other assets, gaining tax advantages and anonymity not available to average people,” the ICIJ said in its summary of what the mammoth project had unearthed.
The expanse of the material they went through with their media partners – including Le Monde and the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) – was considerable.
“The total size of the files, measured in gigabytes, is more than 160 times larger than the leak of US State Department documents by WikiLeaks in 2010,” the ICIJ website noted.
The ICIJ also cited James S. Henry, former chief economist at McKinsey & Company, who has estimated the amount of wealth tucked into offshore havens ($21-32 trillion) roughly equals the U.S. and Japanese economies put together.