Current and former leaders around the world have amassed vast wealth and secret real estate around the world, hundreds of investigative journalists reported on Sunday after sifting through millions of previously unidentified documents.
The documents, called the Pandora Papers, exposed the offshore holdings of 35 current and former country leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Czech Prime Minister Lady Babis and Jordan’s King Abdullah.
The investigation of nearly 12 million documents from 14 sources was led by the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, with 650 journalists from around the world working on the project. The Washington Post, a news outlet that helped investigate, said the files included private emails, secret spreadsheets, secret contracts and other records that disclosed financial plans and who was behind them.
Documents revealed that national leaders on five continents hid assets, often in other countries, with investigations uncovering more than twice as many offshore account holders as the Panama Papers, an examination five years earlier that investigated financial assets hidden in offshore entities. done by journalists. In all where
The new content comes from 29,000 offshore accounts at 14 different financial-services companies operating in Switzerland, Singapore, Cyprus, Belize, the British Virgin Islands and other countries. Among account owners, the Post said, there are more than 130 people Forbes magazine lists as billionaires and more than 330 public officials in more than 90 countries and territories.
“Off-shore” refers to a time when remote island nations were the primary places people put money to protect it from government regulators, tax officials, creditors, investigators and others.
“The offshore financial system is a problem that every law-abiding person around the world should be concerned with,” Sherin Ebadi, a former FBI officer who worked on dozens of financial-crime cases, told the Post.
Records show that the ruler of Jordan spent $106 million on luxury homes along the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, California, Washington and other places, while millions of dollars in wealth and cash were secretly held by the leaders of Kenya and the Czech Republic. Was.
According to records, Czech leader Babis, who faces election later this week, used an offshore investment company to buy two villas in the south of France for more than $16 million.
Records show that a luxury waterfront apartment in Monaco is the residence of a Russian woman who reportedly had a child with Putin. The post said Abdullah’s representatives denied any improper use or use of public funds, while none of the Kenyan, Czech or Russian leaders commented on the report, nor did the Russian woman.
In recent years, US presidents have imposed financial sanctions on oligarchs in Russia, which the US Treasury has called malicious activity. The Pandora Papers showed that those targeted have often made substantial efforts to escape the effects of sanctions by transferring ownership of their assets. Nonetheless, documents showed that the sanctions caused financial losses, including to Kremlin officials.
According to the BBC in Britain, documents say Blair and his wife Cherry saved $421,000 in stamp duty when they bought a London office from an offshore company that owned the building.
The BBC said Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, his family and close aides have secretly purchased property in Britain worth more than $540 million.
For years, the international tax haven has been a favorite of the wealthy looking to hide wealth. But the Post said the Pandora Papers showed that foreign, political and corporate executives in recent years have transferred some of the holdings to even more secretive US trust companies, including in the Midwestern state of South Dakota.