Which world leader appears in the Pandora 'blockbuster' file

Nearly 12 million documents in the "Pandora Papers" have just been revealed that show how some wealthy people and world leaders hide their fortunes.

Pandora profile scale

Artwork: Guardian
Artwork: Guardian

According to The Guardian, compared to the previous Panama and Paradise files, the Pandora file has the largest scale with 2.94 terabytes of data disclosed. The data source and geographies are also larger than the previous two data leaks.

The dossier includes 12 million documents from 14 financial services firms in places such as the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland. These documents were collected by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and shared with more than 650 reporters from over 100 newspapers.

Pandora records show that many world leaders, politicians and billionaires have used accounts in tax havens to accumulate wealth and make transactions. The dossier also exposes the confidential financial status of more than 300 public officials such as ministers, judges, mayors, military generals in more than 90 countries. In addition to the officials, more than 100 billionaires were named among the leaked documents. Many celebrities, rock stars, and business leaders also appear on Pandora profiles.

Many people have used anonymous bank accounts, shell companies to hold expensive assets such as real estate, yachts. The hidden properties also include works of art such as Picasso paintings, frescoes by Banksy or antiques stolen from Cambodia.

The Pandora file has opened a rare door, helping the public to look into the world of shadow finance, the underground activities of the economy in low-tax countries. There, some of the richest people in the world hide their wealth and, in some cases, pay little or no tax.

The Pandora profile includes a series of emails, memos, merger filings, stock certificates, compliance records, and intricate charts that reveal the maze of shell businesses. For the first time, one could name the real owners of shell businesses.

It is not illegal to establish or benefit from entities in low-tax places and in some cases people have a legitimate reason to do so, for example security. However, thanks to the secrecy, tax havens are very attractive to those who have the purpose of tax evasion, tax fraud, and laundering. Several cases have been exposed in the Pandora Records.

Some wealthy companies and individuals have stashed their assets in tax havens to avoid paying taxes. This is a legitimate activity but costs governments billions of dollars in tax revenue.

After 18 months of data analysis, the newspapers will gradually publish the research results in the coming days, starting with the disclosure of financial deals in the tax havens of some of the world's most powerful leaders.

Whose name appears in the Pandora Profile?

Among the names included in the Pandora Records stand out is King Abdullah II of Jordan. According to Pandora records, he amassed a secret estate worth $100 million, stretching from Malibu, Washington to London. In total, he has purchased 15 homes since taking power in 1999 through companies in tax havens. The King of Jordan declined to answer specific questions but said there was nothing wrong with his ownership of real estate through companies in tax havens. Jordan apparently blocked the ICIJ website on October 3, a few hours before the release of the Pandora file.

The Jordanian royal family said that it is not a secret that King Abdullah II of this country owns many properties in the US and UK, and stressed that for privacy and security reasons, this amount of assets is not disclosed. . In a large-scale financial document leak published on October 3, King Abdullah, a close US ally, is accused of using foreign accounts to spend more than $100 million on foreign loans. luxury homes in England and America.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his wife. Photo: Anadolu Agency
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his wife. Photo: Anadolu Agency

Pandora files reveal that the family of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has traded over $540 million in UK real estate in recent years. One of their properties was sold to the Queen's Crown Estate.

In the Czech Republic, Prime Minister Andrej Babis, who is running in this week's elections, is facing questions such as why he used an investment company in tax havens to buy a $22 million mansion in the Czech Republic. south of France.

Mr. Babis has protested the leaks about his assets and views them as an attempt to influence this month's election. "I have never done anything illegal or wrong, but that doesn't stop them from trying to smear me again and influence the Czech parliamentary elections," he said on Twitter.

In Cyprus, which is also a controversial tax haven, President Nicos Anastasiades may have to explain why the law firm he founded was accused of hiding the assets of a Russian billionaire. The firm denies wrongdoing, and the President of Cyprus said he stopped getting involved in the law firm's affairs after becoming leader of the Czech opposition in 1997.

Not everyone who appears in the Pandora profile has been accused of misconduct. For example, the husband and wife of former British Prime Minister Tony and Cherie Blair. They saved $434,000 in property taxes when they bought a building in London partly owned by a Bahraini minister. Mr Blair and his wife purchased the aforementioned £6.5 million office building in Marylebone by buying the company in the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands (BVI). While the move is not illegal, the sale agreement shows a loophole that prevents property owners from paying tax like the average Brit.

The Pandora file reveals London's central coordinating role in the secretive tax haven world. London is home to many wealth management firms, law firms, many accountants and established companies. They all exist to serve the super-rich. Many foreign-born wealthy people enjoy non-resident status, meaning they don't have to pay taxes on assets abroad.

Elected in 2019 with a pledge to clean up Ukraine's notoriously corrupt economy, President Volodymyr Zelensky is also on the Pandora file. According to the filing, during the election campaign, Mr. Zelensky transferred a 25% stake in a company in a foreign tax haven to a close friend who was working as his top adviser. President Zelensky declined to comment on the information that he is still a beneficiary of the company.

In Pakistan, Water Resources Minister Moonis Elahi contacted a company in Singapore about an investment of $33.7 million.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta and close relatives have accumulated assets worth more than $30 million abroad.

Mr. Gerard Ryle, ICIJ Director, said that politicians with assets in tax havens can hinder reform of the tax haven's economy. Therefore, he hopes the Pandora record will have a big impact on similar records that have been leaked before because the records were released in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has fueled inequality and forced governments to borrow unprecedented amounts of money that the average taxpayer ends up incurring.

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, assets worth at least $11.3 trillion are hidden in tax havens. Mr. Ryle said that this is the amount of money that coffers around the world have lost and that money could have been used to recover from the pandemic.

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