More than a dozen heads of state and government from Jordan to Azerbaijan, Kenya and the Czech Republic have used offshore tax havens to hide hundreds of millions of dollars worth of assets, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the ICIJ media consortium.
The so-called “Pandora Papers “investigation involving approximately 600 journalists from media outlets such as The Washington Post , BBC and The Guardian is based on the leak of around 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the world.
Around 35 current and former executives are featured in the latest extensive document collection published by. analyzed was the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – confronted with allegations ranging from corruption to money laundering and global tax avoidance.
In most countries the ICIJ It’s not illegal to have assets overseas or to use letterbox companies to do business across borders.
But such revelations are no less embarrassing for executives, who may have fought publicly against tax avoidance and corruption or advocated austerity measures at home.
In particular, the documents reveal how Jordan’s King Abdullah II created a network of offshore companies and tax havens has to build a real estate empire worth $ 100 million from Malibu, California to Washington and London.
The Jordanian Embassy in Washington declined issued a statement, but the king’s lawyers quoted by the BBC said that all properties were purchased with personal property and that it was customary for high-ranking individuals to buy property through offshore companies for privacy and security reasons.
The family and employees of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev – long the Cor accused of corruption in the Central Asian nation – are said to have secretly been involved in real estate deals worth hundreds of millions in Great Britain.
And the documents also show how Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis – who faces an election later this week – failed to declare an offshore investment company with the a lock worth $ 22 million was bought in the south of France.
“I’ve never done anything illegal or wrong,” suggested Babis em tweet back, calling the revelations a defamation attempt aimed at influencing the election.
In total, the ICIJ found links between nearly 1,000 companies in offshore port and 336 high-ranking ones Politicians and officials, including more than a dozen incumbent heads of state and government, country leaders, cabinet ministers, ambassadors and others.
More than two thirds of the companies were founded in the British Virgin Islands .
“I think it mainly shows that the people who could end offshore secrecy could end what is going on, benefit from it themselves” said ICIJ director Gerard Ryle in a video accompanying the investigation.
“We are dealing with trillions of dollars.”
New for Maira Martini, a policy expert at Transparency International The latest research offers “clear evidence of how the offshore industry promotes corruption and financial crime while hindering the judiciary.”
“This business model cannot go on,” said them.
Among the other revelations from the ICIJ investigation:
– Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who criticized tax loopholes, has been shown to have legally avoided paying stamp duty on a multi-million pound property in London when he and his wife Cherie bought the offshore company that owned it >
– Members of the inner circle of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, including cabinet ministers and their families, are said to secretly own companies and trusts that hold millions of dollars. In a series of tweets, Khan vowed to “take appropriate action” if any wrongdoing is found by Pakistani citizens.
– is Vladimir Putin it is not directly named on the files, but he is linked via employees to secret assets in Monaco, particularly a waterfront home purchased by a Russian woman believed to have had a child with the Russian leader , reports the Washington Post .
– The Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is against corruption and for financial transparency is used, along with several family members, is secretly owned by a network of offshore companies.
– Were among the exposed public figures next to politicians the Colombian singer Shakira, the German Superm odel Claudia Schiffer and the Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar. Representatives of all three told the ICIJ the investments were legitimate and denied tax avoidance.
The Pandora Papers are the latest in a series of mass ICIJ financial leaks. from LuxLeaks in 2014 to the Panama Papers of 2016 – which sparked the resignation of the Icelandic Prime Minister and paved the way for the removal of the Pakistani leader.
They followed by the Paradise Papers in 2017 and the FinCen files in 2020.
The documents behind the latest investigation come from financial services companies in countries such as the British Virgin Islands and Panama, Belize, Cyprus , United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland.