‘Pandora Papers’: World leaders, celebrities among hundreds named in secret financial leak

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Hundreds of world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers have been hiding their investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront properties, yachts and other assets since the last quarter, according to a review of the nearly 12 million files obtained. From 14 firms located around the world.

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The report, released on Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, included 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. It is being dubbed the “Pandora Papers” because the findings shed light on previously hidden dealings of the elite and corrupt, and how they have collectively used offshore accounts to shield trillions of dollars of wealth.

The more than 330 current and former politicians identified as beneficiaries of the secret accounts include King Abdullah II of Jordan, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Lady Babis, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso. And both include Pakistani allies. Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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The billionaires named in the report include Turkish construction mogul Erman Ilicac and former CEO of software maker Reynolds & Reynolds Robert T. Brockman included.

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According to the report, many of the accounts were designed to evade taxes and hide assets for other shady reasons.

“The new data leak should be a wake-up call,” said Sven Giegold, Green Party MP in the European Parliament. “Granthshala tax evasion fuels Granthshala inequality. We now need to expand and intensify countermeasures.”

Oxfam International, a British consortium of charities, commended the Pandora Papers for highlighting brazen examples of greed that deprive countries of tax revenues that can be used to fund programs and projects for the greater good. could.

“This is where our missing hospital is located,” Oxfam said in a statement. “This is where the pay-packets sit for all the extra teachers and firefighters and public servants that we need. Whenever a politician or business leader claims there is ‘no money’ to pay for climate damage and innovation, for more and better jobs, for a fair post-Covid recovery, for more foreign aid, they Know where to look.

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The Pandora Papers are a follow-up to a similar project released in 2016, called the “Panama Papers” compiled by the same journalist group.

The latest blast is even more elaborate, porting through nearly 3 terabytes of data — the equivalent of about 750,000 photos on a smartphone — leaked from 14 different service providers doing business in 38 different jurisdictions around the world. The records date back to the 1970s, but most of the files date from 1996 to 2020.

In contrast, the Panama Papers sifted through 2.6 terabytes of data leaked by a now-defunct law firm based in the country called Mossack Fonseca that inspired that project’s nickname.

The latest investigation discovered accounts registered in familiar offshore shelters, including the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Hong Kong and Belize. But some secret accounts were also scattered among trusts established in the US, including 81 in South Dakota and 37 in Florida.

Some of the initial findings released on Sunday painted a sobering picture of the key people involved.

For example, the investigation found that advisers helped Jordan’s King Abdullah II establish at least three dozen shell companies from 1995 to 2017, helping the monarch buy 14 homes in the US worth more than $106 million. Help ensued and UK One was a $23 million California Ocean. -View property purchased through a British Virgin Islands company in 2017. The consultants were identified as an English accountant in Switzerland and lawyers in the British Virgin Islands.

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There was no immediate comment from the Royal Palace of Jordan.

The details deal a shameful blow to Abdullah, whose government was embroiled in scandal this year when his half-brother, former Crown Prince Hamza, accused the “ruling system” of corruption and incompetence. King claimed he was the victim of a “malicious conspiracy”, put his half-brother under house arrest and prosecuted two former close associates.

According to the report, UK lawyers for Abdullah said he is not required to pay taxes under his country’s law and has not misused public funds, adding that he has protections through offshore companies. And there are reasons for privacy. The lawyers also said that most of the companies and properties are not associated with Raja or no longer exist, though he declined to give details.

Blair, Britain’s prime minister from 1997 to 2007, became the owner of the $8.8 million Victorian building in 2017 by purchasing a British Virgin Islands company that owned the property, and the building now hosts the law firm of his wife, Cheri Blair. . the inspection. The two bought the company from the family of Zayed bin Rashid al-Jayani, the Minister of Industry and Tourism of Bahrain. The investigation found that buying shares of the company instead of the London building saved Blairs more than $400,000 in property tax.

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The investigation found that both Blair and al-Zaynis said they were not initially aware that the other party was involved in the deal. Cheri Blair said her husband was not involved in the purchase, which she said was “to bring the company and the building back into the UK tax and regulatory regime”. She also stated that she did not want to own a British Virgin Islands company and that “the seller wanted to sell the company for his own purposes only,” which has now closed.

A lawyer for al-Zaynis said he complied with UK laws.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Khan is not accused of any wrongdoing. But according to the findings of journalists, members of his inner circle, including Finance Minister Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin, are accused of hiding assets worth millions of dollars in secret companies or trusts.

In a tweet, Khan vowed to recover “wrongful gains” and said his government would look into all citizens mentioned in the documents and take action if necessary.

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