Pandora Papers: New Leaks Reveal How World Executives Are Using Offshore Companies To Avoid Millions In Taxes

The Pandora Papers, sourced from 14 offshore banking institutions and analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), reveal the financial squabbles of more than 100 billionaires, 35 current and former world leaders and 300 public officials. The first round of information given to a short list of international sales outlets and studied by “600 journalists”, was released on Sunday.

According to the ICIJ, King Abdullah II of Jordan is a prolific user of mailbox companies to manage his global real estate empire. The monarch reportedly used 36 of these companies from 1995 to 2017 to purchase 14 luxury homes in the US and the UK, valued at more than $ 106 million. The king’s lawyers say he used these surrogate firms to protect his privacy rather than evading taxes.

The ruling Azerbaijani Aliyev family has traded nearly $ 500 million in British goods in recent years, according to the leaks. One of these properties was sold to the Queen’s Crown Estate by a letterbox company owned by Aliyev for a whopping $ 90 million.

Two EU leaders are named in the leaks: Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who bought a $ 22 million castle in southern France with an offshore investment firm, and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades, who founded a law firm that accuses will, Russian. Billionaire’s fortune.

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie are mentioned, with the couple allegedly evading $ 422,603 ​​in property taxes when they bought a $ 8.8 million London office part owned by the family of a prominent Bahraini legislature . The Blairs apparently managed to evade these taxes by buying the foreign holding company that owned the office.

The list of leaders is long and includes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of Dubai and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates.

Although it includes a picture of Vladimir Putin in the middle of their introductory article and he Putin almost 50 times in a derivative article about the “Hidden riches of Putin’s inner circle”, The Guardian had to admit in its report that the Russian President “Does not appear by name in files”. Instead, the paper focused on that ” Friends, “ including billionaire businessman Gennady Timchenko and Putin’s alleged past “Friend. “

A number of celebrities are featured in the leaks, including pop star Shakira and former Indian cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar. Lawyers for both emphasize that their offshore holdings were legitimate and reported to tax authorities.

Offshore banking is not illegal and is often used by the wealthy to avoid taxes, while letterbox companies are often used to keep the wealthy away from their assets for political or public image reasons. However, such mechanisms make it easier to hide illicit profits from the eyes of law enforcement or regulators.

“Nothing on this scale has ever been seen before and it shows the reality of what offshore companies can offer to help people hide dodgy money or avoid taxes.” Fergus Shiel from ICIJ told the BBC. “They are using these offshore accounts, these offshore trusts, to buy hundreds of millions of dollars in property in other countries and to enrich their own families at the expense of their citizens. “

However, the leaks reveal a status quo that few would find surprising, especially since the Panama Papers 2016 and Paradise Papers 2017 offered readers a glimpse into the world of offshore banking.

Despite the big names featured in the latest collection of documents, the journalists behind the leaks don’t expect any change. “If you have world leaders, if you have politicians, if you have public officials who all use secrecy and all use this world, then I don’t think we’re going to end them.” ICIJ director Gerard Ryle told The Guardian.

Do you like this story? Share it with a friend!