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Pandora Papers vs. Facebook Files

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The loading screen of the Facebook application on a mobile phone is seen in this photo illustration taken in Lavigny May 16, 2012. REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud/File Photo

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NEW YORK, Oct 4 (Reuters Breakingviews) - It’s no surprise that presidents, prime ministers and one king have used secretive offshore financial arrangements. Jordan’s King Abdullah and Czech Republic Prime Minster Andrej Babis are among those mentioned in the massive Pandora Papers document leak to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. As with the recent exposé by the Wall Street Journal contrasting Facebook’s (FB.O) public statements and inner workings, though, it helps to bolster perceptions with facts.

Activities involving disclosure-shy regimes from the Seychelles to South Dakota, as disclosed in the Pandora Papers, aren’t illegal in themselves. Nor is their facilitation by intermediaries such as Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Baker & McKenzie. They can, however, be used to hide wealth, including from tax collectors. Many of those named deny wrongdoing read more . If there is any, though, the 3 terabytes of data scoured by the ICIJ should help find it.

That’s also what the Facebook data drop might achieve. The social network knows its platform can cause harm. It says it tries to mitigate negative effects. But business goals and a rosy self-image get in the way. Detailed documentation can cut through the spin on all sides. The test – of either leak – will be whether it brings improvements. (By Richard Beales)

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Editing by Lauren Silva Laughlin and Amanda Gomez

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