In one of the biggest leaks of financial documents ever, the hidden wealth and secret transactions of world leaders, politicians and billionaires are exposed. This is reported by the BBC. Some 35 current and former world leaders, including Tony Blair and King Abdullah of Jordan, appear in offshore companies ‘ files, collectively called the Pandora Papers.
For example, the Pandora Papers, named after the well-known box of surprises, reveal that King Abdullah of Jordan has secretly amassed British and American property worth over 81 million euros, mainly in real estate.
They also show how British ex-prime minister Tony Blair and his wife saved over 364,000 euros when they bought an office worth 7.53 million euros through an offshore company.
The leak also links Russian president Vladimir Putin to secret assets in Monaco. It also shows that Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who is due to be elected later this week, owns an offshore investment company that bought two villas worth 14 million euros in southern France.
Owners of 95,000 offshore companies revealed
Many of the transactions in the leaked documents do not involve legal violations. But the documents do reveal the owners of 95,000 offshore companies behind those transactions. The Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev and his family are examples of this.
The investigation revealed that the Aliyevs and their close associates have been secretly involved in real estate transactions in the United Kingdom worth more than € 467 million.
Other revelations in the Pandora Papers include Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, including ministers, and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky. The latter appears to have transferred his stake in a secret offshore company just before he won the 2019 election.
The investigation of the files was conducted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), in which more than 650 investigative journalists participate. It shows the reality of what offshore companies can offer to help people hide unreliable money or avoid taxes. Shiel added: “they use those offshore accounts, those offshore trusts, to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate in other countries and to enrich their own families at the expense of their citizens.
The Pandora Papers fit into a series of leaks that have become public over the past seven years, after the FinCEN Files, The Paradise Papers, the Panama Papers and LuxLeaks. Several international media, including the BBC and The Washington Post, gained access to 12 million documents from 14 financial services providers in, among others, the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland.