The secret offshore wealth of more than 300 world leaders, politicians and business influencers has been exposed in one of the biggest financial data breaches on record.
The Pandora Papers investigation, which involved a consortium of some 600 journalists from various global media, is based on the leak of some 11.9 million documents from 14 financial services companies around the world.
Some 35 world leaders and more than 100 billionaires are involved in the leaked documents. Among those named in the files are British Prime Minister Tony Blair, associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin, King Abdullah of Jordan and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) obtained the documents, which were then passed on to media outlets, including the BBC. Panorama program and The Guardian. The leaked documents reveal how the world’s elite are using offshore tax havens to store and move their money.
The documents link Mr. Putin to secret assets in Monaco. A woman who allegedly had a relationship with the Russian leader became the owner of a luxurious fourth-floor apartment in Monte Carlo in 2003 weeks after giving birth.
The £ 3.1million property was bought by Brockville Development Ltd, a British Virgin Islands-based company that was eventually traced back to Svetlana Krivonogikh, allegedly Mr Putin’s lover. The Kremlin did not respond to requests for comment.
Meanwhile, it was revealed that Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis had injected £ 12million into several shell companies to buy a large property, known as Chateau Bigaud, in a hilltop village of Mougins, France.
Mr. Babis did not disclose the shell companies and the castle in the asset declarations that he is required to file as a public official, according to the ICIJ. On Twitter, Babis said he had done nothing “illegal or wrong” and suggested the leaks were an attempt “to influence the Czech elections”, which take place next week.
The leaked documents also claim that the King of Jordan has secretly spent over £ 70million on a real estate empire in the UK and the US. Abdullah II bin Al-Hussein has reportedly used a network of secret companies in the BVI to buy 15 homes since coming to power in 1999, including properties in California and London.
Lawyers for King Abdullah have denied any wrongdoing and told the BBC he used his personal fortune to buy the properties.
Elsewhere, leaked documents reveal that Tony and Cherie Blair saved around £ 312,000 in taxes on buying property in London by acquiring an offshore company named Romanstone International Limited, based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).
The Blairs bought the £ 6.45million townhouse on Harcourt Street in Marylebone by setting up a UK company named Harcourt Ventures to acquire shares in Romanstone. The way the deal was done allowed the Blairs to avoid having to pay stamp duty, as the tax is not paid when the holding company of a property is acquired rather than the building directly.
In a statement, the couple said they bought the property “in the normal way through reputable real estate agents” and had “nothing to do with the original company or those who supported it” . They said they “never used offshore schemes to hide transactions or avoid taxes.”
The ministers of Imran Khan’s government in Pakistan are also named in the documents. Records reveal that a series of government officials have secretly owned an array of companies and trusts holding millions of dollars in hidden wealth.
The documents do not contain any suggestion that Khan owns offshore companies.
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This notice was published: 2021-10-03 22:15:06