Pandora Papers

Pandora Papers reveals financial secrets of world elite


The Pandora papers, a collection of  11.9 million documents related to offshore dealings, revealed on Sunday (Oct. 3) the names of of 35 current and former world leaders and more than 300 other current and former public officials and politicians reportedly involved in secret deals. The files were obtained by the Washington D.C.-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and analyzed by 150 news outlets in 117 countries.

The 2.94 terabytes of data,  leaked to ICIJ come from 14 offshore services firms from around the world. The records include an unprecedented amount of information on so-called beneficial owners of entities registered in the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Hong Kong, Belize, Panama, South Dakota and other secrecy jurisdictions.

The papers mention Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta,
as well as several of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s close associates.

The files also show that Azerbaijan’s ruling Aliyev family has traded close to £400m of UK property in recent years and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and his wife, Cherie Blair, avoided paying £312,000 ($423,000) in stamp duty — a tax on property purchases — when they bought a townhouse in London.

Alongside the politicians, the public figures linked to offshore assets also included Colombian singer Shakira, German supermodel Claudia Schiffer and Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar.

The US emerges from the leak as a leading tax haven. South Dakota and more than a dozen U.S. states have become leaders in the business of selling financial secrecy — even as the U.S. blames smaller nations for enabling tax avoidance and dirty money flows.

The Pandora Papers which soon became the No. 2 trending topic worldwide on Twitter, are a follow-up to a similar project released in 2016 called the “Panama Papers” compiled by the same journalistic group.

“This is the Panama papers on steroids,” Gerard Ryle, the director of the ICIJ said. “It’s broader, richer and has more detail.”

Officials in Pakistan, Mexico, Spain, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Australia and Panama quickly promised inquiries while global watchdog groups demanded action in the wake of stories revealing how billionaires, as well as celebrities, criminals, royal family members and leaders of religious groups around the world exploit a shadow financial system that covers up tax dodging and money laundering.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov on Monday questioned the reliability of the reporting and said there were no plans to investigate further. “To be honest, we did not see any hidden wealth of Putin’s entourage. It seems that there will be more publications on that matter, but so far we have not seen anything special,” Peskov said.

The offshore system continues to thrive despite decades of legislation, investigations and international agreements aimed at combating money laundering and tax dodging.