According to a review of nearly 12 million files, hundreds of world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers have hidden their investments in buildings, exclusive beach properties, yachts and other assets for the last quarter of a century. From 14 firms located around the world.
The report, released on Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, involved 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. It is called “Pandora Papers” because the investigations shed light on previously hidden transactions of the elite and the corrupt and how they collectively saved billions of dollars in assets using offshore accounts.
Among the more than 30 current and former politicians identified as beneficiaries of the secret accounts are King Abdullah II of Jordan, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Andrej Babis, President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta, President of Ecuador Guillermo Lasso and their former allies. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The billionaires mentioned in the report include Turkish construction mogul Erman Ilyak and former CEO of software maker Reynolds & Reynolds, Robert T. Brockman.
According to the report, many accounts were designed to hide assets due to tax evasion and other shady reasons.
“The new data leak will definitely be a wake-up call,” said Seven Ziegold, a Green Party lawmaker in the European Parliament. “Global tax evasion exacerbates global inequality. We need to expand and sharpen the countermeasures now. ”
Oxfam International, a British charitable consortium, has praised Pandora Papers for uncovering such shameless examples of greed that could be used to fund programs and projects for greater welfare in countries deprived of tax revenue.
“This is where our missing hospitals are,” Oxfam said in a statement. “This is where the pay-packets we need sit for all the extra teachers and firefighters and government employees. Whenever a politician or business leader claims that there is ‘no money’ to pay for climate damage and innovation, for a better job, for a fair Covid post-recovery, for more foreign aid, they know where to look.
Pandora Papers is a follow-up to a similar project published in 2016 called “Panama Papers” compiled by a similar journalism group.
The latest bombshell has leaked from 14 service providers doing business in 38 different regions of the world – more extensive, porting through about 3 terabytes of data – equivalent to about 750,000 images on a smartphone. The records date back to the 1970s, but most files date from 1996 to 2020.
In contrast, the Panama Papers collected 2.6 terabytes of information leaked by an invalid law firm called Mosaic Fonseca, which inspired the project’s nickname.
The latest investigation has dug into accounts registered in known offshore shelters, including the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Hong Kong and Belize. But some secret accounts were scattered among trusts established in the United States, including 81 in South Dakota and 37 in Florida.
A tragic picture has been painted of prominent people involved in some preliminary studies published on Sunday.
For example, the investigation found that advisers helped King II of Jordan set up at least three dozen shell companies from 1995 to 2017, helped the king buy 14 homes in the United States worth more than 6 106 million, and the UK had a $ 23 million California Ocean – a British View properties purchased in 2017 through the Virgin Islands Company. The advisers were identified as an English accountant in Switzerland and a lawyer in the British Virgin Islands.
There were no immediate comments from Jordan’s Royal Palace.
The account is an embarrassing blow to Abdullah, whose government was embroiled in scandals this year when his honest brother, former Crown Prince Hamza, accused the “regime” of corruption and incompetence. The king claimed he was the victim of a “malicious conspiracy”, kept his honest brother under house arrest and brought two former close associates to justice.
Abdullah took power in 1999 after the death of his father, King Hussein.
The report said the UK’s attorney for Abdullah said he did not have to pay taxes under his country’s law and that he had not misused government funds, adding that he had reasons for the security and confidentiality of holding through an offshore company. Attorneys further said that most companies and properties are not affiliated with King or do not exist now, although they declined to give details.
From 1997 to 2007, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Blair owned a .. 8 million Victorian building in 2017. Investigation. The two companies were bought from the family of Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Bahrain’s Minister of Industry and Tourism. Buying shares of the company instead of the building has saved Blairs more than $ 400,000 in property taxes, the investigation found.
Both Blairs and al-Zayanis said they did not initially know the other party was involved in the deal, the investigation found. Cherry 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 system”. A lawyer for Al-Zayanis said they were complying with UK law.
In 2009, Czech Prime Minister Andrzej Babis invested শ 22 million in the Shell Company to buy a chatau property in a mountain village in Mogins, France, near Cannes, an investigation has found. According to documents obtained by Jelism Group’s check partner, Investigace.cz, the shell company and the chat were not disclosed in Babis’ required asset declaration.
The investigation found that the Monaco Company, a real estate group indirectly owned by Babis, was bought by Chat.
Babis tweeted in his first response to the report, “I was waiting for something to come up just before the election to damage me and to influence the Czech election.”
Parliamentary elections in the Czech Republic are being held on Friday and Saturday.
“I’ve never done anything illegal or wrong,” Babis added.
Liedtke reports from San Ramon, California, and Mattis reports from Nashville, Tennessee.
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