Pandora Papers: What is known about the leak exposing the secret wealth of world leaders and billionaires

Pandora Papers: What is known about the leak exposing the secret wealth of world leaders and billionaires

The wealth and secret deals of world leaders, politicians and billionaires have been exposed in one of the largest financial document leaks.

Some 35 current and past leaders and more than 300 public officials appear in the files of offshore companies, known as companies offshore.

The filtration and investigation of these files is known as the Pandora Papers.

These documents reveal that the King of Jordan secretly amassed near US $ 95 million in properties in the United Kingdom and the United States.

They also show how the former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife they saved about $ 423,000 in taxes when they bought an office in London.

The couple bought a company offshore who owned the building.

ICIJ / BBC.

Another detail that the investigation reveals is that the President of Ecuador Guillermo Lasso, a former banker, replaced a Panamanian foundation that made monthly payments to his close relatives with a trust based in South Dakota, in the United States.

The leak also links the Russian president Vladimir Putin with secret assets in Monaco, and shows that the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis – which faces an election later this week – did not state that an investment company offshore it was used to buy two villas for about US $ 16 million in the south of France.

12 million documents

The Pandora Papers is the latest in a series of leaks in the last seven years, after the FinCen Archives, the Paradise Papers, Panama Papers and LuxLeaks.

Ecuador's President Guillermo Lasso is on file. (Getty Images).
Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso is on file. (Getty Images).

The investigation of the files is the largest ever organized by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ, for its acronym in English), with the participation of more than 650 reporters.

The BBC’s Panorama program in a joint investigation with the British newspaper The Guardian and other media, he has had access to 12 million documents from 14 financial services companies in countries such as the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland.

Some figures featured in the report face accusations of corruption, money laundering and global tax evasion.

Properties in United Kingdom

One of the biggest revelations is how prominent and wealthy people have legally established companies to buy UK property secretly.

The documents reveal the owners of some of the 95,000 offshore companies behind the purchases.

It highlights the fact that the UK government failed to introduce a foreign property owner registry, despite repeated promises to do so, amid concerns that some property buyers could be hiding money laundering activities.

The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, and his family, accused of looting their own country, are an example.

The investigation found that the Aliyevs and their close associates have been secretly involved in real estate deals in the UK worth more than $ 540 million.

The revelations could prove embarrassing to the UK government as the Aliyevs appear to have made a $ 42 million profit after selling one of their London properties to Crown Estate, the Queen’s real estate empire which is administered by the Treasury and collects cash for the nation.

Many of the transactions in the documents they do not involve any legal offense.

But Fergus Shiel from ICIJ said: “There has never been anything on this scale and it shows the reality of what companies offshore can offer to help people hide cash or avoid taxes”.

“They are using these foreign accounts, these foreign trusts, to buy hundreds of millions of dollars in property in other countries and to enrich their own families, to expense of its citizens”He added.

The ICIJ believes that the investigation is “opening a box on many things”, hence the name Pandora Papers.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.