The Pandora Paper is leakage of 12 million documents that uncover the hidden wealth, tax avoidance, and money laundering by the world’s richest and powerful people. The Pandora Papers leak includes more than 6 million documents, 3 million images, 1 million emails, and almost half a million spreadsheets.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), in Washington DC, was able to obtain the data in cooperation with 140 media organizations on its biggest ever global investigation. More than 600 journalists from 117 different countries have been searching through the files for months.
The Pandora Papers leak reveals that there are secret offshore affairs of 35 world leaders, mainly current and former presidents, prime ministers, and heads of state.
Offshore affairs are conducted in offshore countries that are often characterized by easily setting up companies, low or no corporation tax, and its laws make it difficult to find the owners of the companies.
These kinds of offshore countries are known as “tax havens” because they help people avoid paying taxes through setting up companies or by moving their money. This act is often seen as unethical. Tax havens include Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland, Cayman Island and the British Virgin Island, and Singapore.
Moreover, there are secret finances to more than 300 public officials and politicians such as government ministries, judges, mayors, and military generals in more than 90 countries.
World Leaders involved in offshore financial affairs:
King Abdullah II, Ruler of Jordan, has massed a property empire that is worth $100 Million across Malibu, Washington, and London. The king declined to answer specific questions but said there would be nothing improper about him owning properties via offshore companies. Jordan appeared to have blocked the ICIJ website on Sunday, hours before the Pandora papers launched.
Former PM Tony Blaire and his wife Cherie Blair, who saved £312,000 in property taxes when they purchased a London building partially owned by the family of a prominent Bahraini minister. They also bought the £6.5m office in Marylebone by acquiring a British Virgin Islands (BVI) offshore company.
The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babis, is for elections this week. Babis never answered questions asking why he used an offshore company to collect a $22 million chateau in the south of France.
Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who was elected in 2019, was also noted on the list. During the campaign, Zelenskiy transferred his 25% stake in an offshore company to a close friend who now works as the president’s top adviser, the files suggest. Zelenskiy declined to comment, and it is unclear if he remains a beneficiary.
Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom the US suspects to be having a secret fortune, does not appear in the files by name. However, his best friend from childhood – the late Petr Kolbin – whom critics have called a “wallet” for Putin’s own wealth, and a woman the Russian leader was allegedly once romantically involved with. None responded to invitations to comment.
US president Joe Biden, who has pledged to lead efforts internationally to bring transparency to the global financial system. The US emerges from the leak as a leading tax haven. The files suggest the state of South Dakota is sheltering billions of dollars in wealth linked to individuals previously accused of serious financial crimes.