October 03, 2021
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
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.
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:
Andrej Babi, who used an offshore investment
company to acquire a $22 million château in the South of
Nicos Anastasiades of Cyprus, who founded a law firm
accused of hiding a Russian billionaire's wealth
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,
President Volodymyr Zelensky
President Uhuru Kenyatta
Prime Minister Najib Mikati
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the prime minister of Dubai
and vice president of the United Arab Emirates
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
billionaire businessman Gennady Timchenko, and Putin's
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.
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
"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
Massive data leak Exposes World Leaders' Offshore Millions
October 04, 2021
Information sent by
Some 35 current and former leaders
featured in leaked financial documents analyzed by the
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
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,
...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
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
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
TONY BLAIR AND
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
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
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."
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,
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
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
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
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,