We study a motive for why individuals may hide wealth in offshore entities that has received scant attention in the academic literature and the public debate: the fear of expropriation. We use the Panama Papers and data on media reporting on expropriations and property confiscations. We document that such news reports increase the probability that offshore entities are incorporated by agents from the same country in the same month. This result is robust to the use of country-year- and month-fixed effects and the exclusion of tax havens. The effect is stronger in countries with well-functioning governments. We argue that individuals start hiding their proceeds from illegal activities in offshore entities when reasonably well-intended and well-functioning governments become more serious about law enforcement.
- Expropriations and confiscations
- Offshore entities
- Panama Papers
- Tax havens