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The Value of Offshore Secrets: Evidence from the Panama Papers

James O’Donovan, Hannes Wagner and Stefan Zeume

No 634, Working Papers from IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University

Abstract: We exploit one of the largest data leaks to date to study whether and how firms use secret offshore vehicles. From the leaked data, we identify 338 listed firms as users of secret offshore vehicles and document that these vehicles are used to finance corruption, avoid taxes, and expropriate shareholders. Overall, the leak erased $174 billion in market capitalization among implicated firms. Following the increased transparency brought about by the leak, implicated firms experience lower sales from perceptively corrupt countries and avoid less tax. We estimate conservatively that one in seven firms have offshore secrets. JEL Classification: G32, G38, H25, H26 Keywords: Panama Papers, tax haven, offshore, corruption, tax evasion, expropriation, corporate misbehavior, Paradise Papers.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-iue
Date: 2018
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