The Pandora Papers, a massive leak of financial information that has disclosed the offshore financial assets of dozens of current and former world leaders, as well as hundreds of politicians from Asia, Europe the Middle East, and Latin America, was the result of an unprecedented leak of financial records.
“A sweeping look at an industry that helps the world’s ultrawealthy, powerful government officials and other elites conceal trillions of dollars from tax authorities, prosecutors, and others,” according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which obtained 11.9 million confidential documents from 14 separate legal and financial services firms.
Most governments recognize the legality of moving money through offshore accounts, which are typically located in low-tax jurisdictions. Additionally, many of the individuals mentioned in the data release have not been charged with any criminal offenses.
Nevertheless, according to the journalistic group, the 2.94 terabytes of financial and legal data – which makes this leak larger than the 2016 Panama Papers leak in terms of volume – demonstrates that the “offshore money machine operates in every corner of the planet, including the world’s largest democracies,” and involves some of the world’s most well-known banks and legal firms.
The following are 6 of the most significant revelations made in the release:
1. Jordan king’s real estate empire
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported that Jordan’s monarch, King Abdullah II, used an English accountant in Switzerland and lawyers in the British Virgin Islands to secretly purchase 14 luxury homes worth $106 million, including a $23 million property in California overlooking a beach. The country relies on foreign aid to support its people and house millions of refugees, according to the ICIJ report.
According to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the king’s counsel in the United Kingdom claim that he is not compelled to pay taxes under Jordanian law, has never misused public funds, and has “security and privacy grounds” to keep property through offshore entities.
2. French Riviera estate
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) reported that Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who is presently vying for re-election, “moved $22 million through offshore firms to acquire a magnificent villa on the French Riviera in 2009 while keeping his ownership hidden.”
A subsidiary of one of Babis’ Czech companies owns the five-bedroom Chateau Bigaud, which is located on 9.4 acres (3.8 hectares) in a hilltop village where Pablo Picasso spent the last years of his life, according to the company.
3. The Queen of England and the Republic of Azerbaijan
According to the Guardian, one of the ICIJ’s media partners, the data release indicated that Azerbaijan’s ruling Aliyev family transferred over $540 million worth of United Kingdom property in recent years.
A property valued at around $91 million was purchased from the family by the Queen’s royal estate, according to the Guardian, which is currently conducting an internal assessment of the acquisition.
In response to the potential concerns expressed, a spokeswoman for the Crown Estate told the newspaper that they were looking into the matter. The Aliyevs, however, declined to comment on the report.
4. South Dakota and Nevada are safe havens.
The role of South Dakota, Nevada, and other states that have adopted financial secrecy laws that “rival those of offshore jurisdictions” and demonstrate America’s “expanding complicity in the offshore economy,” according to the Washington Post, one of the ICIJ’s media partners, was one of the most “troubling revelations” for the United States, according to the newspaper.
A former vice president of the Dominican Republic finalized several trusts in South Dakota to store his personal wealth and shares of one of the country’s largest sugar producers, the paper said.
5. Pakistan’s ruling political class
Members of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s inner circle, including current and past cabinet ministers, were found to have “secretly owned an array of corporations and trusts that held millions of dollars in hidden riches,” according to the group.
For the former cricketer, who ran for the South Asian country’s highest office as the leader of a reformist party with a strong anti-corruption platform, this could present a political nightmare for him.
In a press conference conducted prior to the publication of the Pandora files, Khan’s spokesperson stated that the Pakistani leader did not have an offshore firm, but that ministers and advisers “would have to be held accountable” for their own actions.
6. Tony Blair property purchase
According to the documents, former British Prime Official Tony Blair and his wife saved almost $422,000 by purchasing an over $9 million office in London’s Marylebone district that was partially owned by the family of a Bahraini minister through an offshore company, according to the Guardian.
According to the newspaper, there was nothing unlawful about the transaction, but it “highlights a loophole that has allowed wealthy property owners to avoid paying a tax that is normal for regular Britons,” according to the daily.
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