The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ, for its English acronym) this Sunday published the Pandora Papers, a series of documents intended to show how 35 prominent leaders and former world leaders like Vladimir Putin, Abdullah of Jordan, Andrei Babis or Guillermo Lasso has fortunes in tax havens.
The leaked documents could lead to cases of corruption, money laundering or tax evasion, although for the most part they are evidence of perfectly legal operations that the rich and powerful use to start businesses to buy property.
Among the names mentioned is King Abdullah of Jordan, who has acquired important properties in the UK and the US valued at more than 80 million euros. Since his accession to the throne in 1999, he would have bought 15 houses in Malibó (California, USA) or London.
The monarch’s lawyers assure that these properties were acquired with private funds and are also used for community projects. For example, they defended the purchase of real estate by bogus companies for data protection and security reasons.
There are also the President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, and six relatives who own a network of companies in tax havens, or the Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, whose environment owns million euro companies in tax havens.
In the case of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Pandora Papers unveil real estate in Monaco, while Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, a billionaire, has not declared a company owning two $ 12 million mansions in southern France.
In the case of Babis, the revelation could have immediate political consequences, as his party Alliance of Dissatisfied Citizens (ANO, “Yes” in Czech) is the favorite for the parliamentary elections on October 8th and 9th.
The Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades also has front men who own companies in tax havens, as does the President of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso, who has a foundation in Panama that pays his family monthly payments.
Another name that comes up is that of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his family, who are accused of ransacking the wealth of their own country. According to the investigation, Aliyev’s entourage bought land for more than 400 million pounds (around 467 million euros) at a joint meeting. One of Aliyev’s properties was sold to the British royalty for a profit of £ 31 million.
The Pandora Papers follow leaks from documents like the FinCen Archives, Paradise Papers, Panama Papers and LuxLeaks, but the ICIJ assures that the latter with 14 sources, nearly 12 million files and nearly 3. the biggest leak is terabytes of data.
The documents come from 14 financial services companies in tax havens such as the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland.
“There has never been anything on this scale. It shows the reality of businesses in rural paradises that have been used to hide money and avoid taxes,” said an ICIJ spokesman, Fergus Shiel.
“They are using the accounts and companies in tax havens to buy hundreds of millions of dollars in property in their own countries to enrich their families at the expense of their citizens,” he added. The investigation “opens a box with many things” that gives the leak its name.
More than 600 journalists from 117 countries and well-known media around the world have participated in this latest ICIJ leak.