October 03, 2021

from RT Website





King Abdullah II of Jordan (L), Shakira (C), and Tony Blair (R)

© Reuters / Elizabeth Frantz, Mike Blake, and Henry Nicholls


Leaked papers appear to show how some of the world's elites accumulate property empires while avoiding millions in taxes, with reports focusing on European, Middle Eastern and South American leaders, and world-famous celebrities.

Obtained from 14 offshore banking institutions and analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), the 'Pandora Papers' reveal,

the financial chicanery of more than 100 billionaires, 35 current and former world leaders, and 300 public officials...

The first round of information, handed to a select list of international outlets and studied by "600 journalists," was published on Sunday.

According to the ICIJ, King Abdullah II of Jordan is a prolific user of shell corporations to manage his global property empire. The monarch reportedly used 36 of these companies from 1995 to 2017 to purchase 14 luxury properties in the US and UK worth more than $106 million.


The king's lawyers say he used these stand-in companies to maintain his privacy rather than to dodge any taxes.


Azerbaijan's ruling Aliyev family has traded almost $500 million worth of British property in recent years, according to the leaks. One of these properties was sold by an Aliyev-owned front company to the Queen's crown estate for a sizable $90 million.


Two EU leaders are named in the leaks:

  • Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who used an offshore investment company to acquire a $22 million château in the South of France

  • President Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus, who founded a law firm accused of hiding a Russian billionaire's wealth

Former British prime minister Tony Blair and his wife Cherie are mentioned, with the pair allegedly having dodged $422,603 in property taxes when they purchased an $8.8 million London office partially owned by the family of a prominent Bahraini lawmaker.


The Blairs were apparently able to circumvent these taxes by purchasing the foreign holding company that owned the office.


The list of leaders is extensive, and also includes,

  • Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

  • Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

  • Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati

  • Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of Dubai and vice president of the United Arab Emirates

Despite featuring an image of Vladimir Putin front and center on their introductory piece, and mentioning Putin nearly 50 times in a spin-off article about the,

"hidden riches of Putin's inner circle," The Guardian had to admit in its reporting that the Russian president "does not appear in the files by name"...

Instead, the paper focused on,

Putin's "friends," including billionaire businessman Gennady Timchenko, and Putin's rumored past "girlfriend."

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


Offshore banking is not illegal, and is often used by the wealthy to avoid taxes, while shell companies are frequently used to distance the rich from their holdings for political reasons or reasons of public image.


However, such mechanisms make it easier to hide ill-gotten gains from the eyes of law enforcement or regulators.

"There's never been anything on this scale and it shows the reality of what offshore companies can offer to help people hide dodgy cash or avoid tax," Fergus Shiel of the ICIJ told the BBC.


"They are using those offshore accounts, those offshore trusts, to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of 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 2016 Panama Papers and 2017 Paradise Papers offered readers a look into the world of offshore banking.


Despite the major names listed in the latest document trove, the journalists behind the leaks don't expect anything to change.

"When you have world leaders, when you have politicians, when you have public officials, all using the secrecy and all using this world, then I don't think we're going to see an end to it," ICIJ Director Gerard Ryle told The Guardian.








Pandora Papers

-   Massive data leak Exposes World Leaders' Offshore Millions   -
October 04, 2021

from ChannelNewsAsia Website

Information sent by MJGdeA

Some 35 current and former leaders

are featured in leaked financial documents analyzed by the

International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

(Photo: AFP/Jim Watson)



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 assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars, according to a far-reaching new investigation by the ICIJ media consortium.

The so-called Pandora Papers investigation - involving about 600 journalists from media including,

  • The Washington Post

  • BBC

  • The Guardian,

...is based on the leak of about 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the world.

About 35 current and former leaders are featured in the latest vast trove of documents analysed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) - facing allegations ranging from corruption to money laundering and global tax avoidance.

In most countries, the ICIJ stresses, it is not illegal to have assets offshore or to use shell companies to do business across national borders.

But such revelations are no less of an embarrassment for leaders who may have campaigned publicly against tax avoidance and corruption, or advocated austerity measures at home.

The documents notably expose how Jordan's King Abdullah II created a network of offshore companies and tax havens to amass a US$100 million property empire from Malibu, California to Washington and London.

The Jordanian embassy in Washington declined to comment, but the BBC cited lawyers for the king saying all the properties were bought with personal wealth, and that it was common practice for high profile individuals to purchase properties via offshore companies for privacy and security reasons.

Family and associates of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev - long accused of corruption in the central Asian nation - are alleged to have been secretly involved in property deals in Britain worth hundreds of millions.

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 used to purchase a chateau worth US$22 million in the south of France.

"I have never done anything illegal or wrong," Babis hit back in a tweet, calling the revelations a smear attempt aimed at influencing the election.


In total, the ICIJ found links between almost 1,000 companies in offshore havens and 336 high-level politicians and public officials, including more than a dozen serving heads of state and government, country leaders, cabinet ministers, ambassadors and others.

More than two-thirds of the companies were set up in the British Virgin Islands.

Nearly 2 million of the 11.9 million leaked documents came from prestigious Panamanian law firm Aleman, Cordero, Galindo & Lee (Alcogal), which the ICJ said had become,

"a magnet for the rich and powerful from Latin America and beyond seeking to hide wealth offshore".

Alcogal, whose clients allegedly included the Jordanian monarch and Czech prime minister, rejected accusations of shady dealings, saying it was considering legal action to defend its reputation.

"I guess it mostly demonstrates that the people that could end the secrecy of offshore, could end what's going on, are themselves benefiting from it," the ICIJ's director Gerard Ryle said in a video accompanying the investigation.

"We're looking at trillions of dollars."

For Maira Martini, a policy expert with Transparency International, the latest investigation once more offers.

"clear evidence of how the offshore industry promotes corruption and financial crime, while obstructing justice."

Among the other revelations from the ICIJ investigation

Former British prime minister Tony Blair, who has been critical of tax loopholes, is 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 Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's inner circle, including cabinet ministers and their families, are said to secretly own companies and trusts holding millions of dollars.


In a series of tweets, Khan vowed to,

"take appropriate action" if any wrongdoing by Pakistani citizens is established.

Vladimir Putin is not directly named in the files, but he is linked via associates to secret assets in Monaco, notably a waterfront home acquired by a Russian woman believed to have had a child with the Russian leader, The Washington Post reports.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta - who has campaigned against corruption and for financial transparency - is alleged along with several family members of secretly owning a network of offshore companies.

As well as politicians, the public figures exposed included the Colombian singer Shakira, the German supermodel Claudia Schiffer and the Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.


Representatives for 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 leaks of financial documents, from LuxLeaks in 2014, to the 2016 Panama Papers - which triggered the resignation of the prime minister of Iceland and paved the way for the leader of Pakistan to be ousted.

They were followed by the Paradise Papers in 2017 and FinCen files in 2020.

The documents behind the latest investigation are drawn from financial services companies in countries including,

  • the British Virgin Islands

  • Panama

  • Belize

  • Cyprus

  • the United Arab Emirates

  • Singapore

  • Switzerland