An unprecedented financial document leak known as the “Pandora Papers” has exposed the offshore financial assets of dozens of current and former world leaders and hundreds of politicians from Asia and the Middle East to Latin America.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained 11.9 million confidential documents from 14 separate legal and financial services firms, which the group said offered “a global snapshot of an industry that helps the powerful and the ultra-rich. government officials around the world and other elites to conceal billions of dollars. tax authorities, prosecutors and others.
Transferring money through offshore accounts, in most low-tax jurisdictions, is legal in most countries, and many of the people named in the data release are not charged with wrongdoing. But the group of reporters said the 2.94 terabytes of financial and legal data – which makes this leak bigger than the 2016 Panama Papers release – shows that “the offshore money machine is running in every corner. of the planet, including the world’s greatest democracies ”, and involves some of the world’s best-known banks and law firms.
Here are some of the biggest reveals from the release:
The real estate empire of the King of Jordan
Jordan’s monarch King Abdullah II brought in an English accountant in Switzerland and lawyers from the British Virgin Islands to secretly buy 14 luxury homes worth $ 106 million, including a $ 23 million property dollars in California overlooking a beach, the ICIJ reported, noting the country relies on foreign aid to support its population and house millions of refugees. British lawyers for the king told the ICIJ that he was not required to pay taxes under Jordanian law, that he had never embezzled public funds and that he had “reasons of security and confidentiality for holding property through offshore companies ”.
Domaine Côte d’Azur
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, currently running for reelection, “transferred US $ 22 million via offshore companies to buy a lavish estate on the French Riviera in 2009 while keeping his property a secret,” said the HERE. The five-bedroom Chateau Bigaud, which is owned by a branch of one of Babis’ Czech companies, sits on 9.4 acres (3.8 hectares) in a hilltop village where Pablo Picasso spent the last years of his life , the group said.
The Queen and Azerbaijan
The data release revealed that the ruling Aliyev family in Azerbaijan have traded around US $ 540 million in goods in the UK in recent years, reported The Guardian, one of ICIJ’s media partners. Queen Elizabeth II’s Crown Estate has purchased property worth nearly $ 91 million from the family and is currently in the midst of an internal review of the purchase, the UK newspaper said. “In view of the potential concerns raised, we are examining the matter,” a Crown Estate spokesperson told the newspaper, who added that the Aliyevs declined to comment.
South Dakota, Nevada’s paradise
One of the “most disturbing revelations” for the United States has been the role of South Dakota, Nevada and other states which have passed financial secrecy laws that “rival those of offshore jurisdictions” and demonstrate the “growing US complicity in the offshore economy,” said The Washington Post, one of ICIJ’s media partners. A former vice president of the Dominican Republic finalized several trusts in South Dakota to store his personal wealth and the shares of one of the country’s largest sugar producers, the newspaper said.
Pakistani political elite
Several members of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle, including current and former cabinet ministers, “secretly owned an array of businesses and trusts holding millions of dollars in hidden wealth,” the group reported. It could create a political headache for the former cricket star, who campaigned for the South Asian country’s top office as leader of a reform party that has pledged a strong anti-corruption agenda. . Before the publication of the Pandora Papers, a spokesperson for Khan told a press conference that Khan does not have an offshore company, but ministers and advisers “should be held accountable” for their individual actions.
Real estate purchase Tony Blair
Documents show former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife saved around $ 422,000 by using an offshore company to buy an almost $ 9 million office in London’s Marylebone area that was partly owned by the family of a Bahraini minister. The Guardian reported. The newspaper said there was nothing illegal about the deal, but it “points to a loophole that has allowed wealthy landowners not to pay a tax which is common for ordinary Brits.”
by Iain Marlow, Bloomberg