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Leaked records open a ‘Pandora’ box of financial secrets of hundreds of world leaders, billionaires, celebrities

Washington: Hundreds of world leaders, powerful politicians, billionaires, celebrities, religious leaders and drug dealers have been hiding their investments in mansions, exclusive beachfront properties, yachts and other assets since the last quarter, according to a review of the nearly 12 million files obtained. From 14 firms located around the world.

The report, released on Sunday by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, included 600 journalists from 150 media outlets in 117 countries. It is being dubbed the “Pandora Papers” because the findings shed light on previously hidden dealings of the elite and corrupt, and how they have collectively used offshore accounts to shield trillions of dollars of wealth.

Identities of over 330 current, former politicians

The more than 330 current and former politicians identified as beneficiaries of the secret accounts include King Abdullah II of Jordan, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Lady Babis, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso. And both include aides of the Pakistani prime minister. Minister Imran Khan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The billionaires named in the report include Turkish construction mogul Erman Ilicac and former CEO of software maker Reynolds & Reynolds Robert T. Brockman included.

Read also | Sachin Tendulkar’s name appeared in Pandora Papers

According to the report, many of the accounts were designed to evade taxes and hide assets for other shady reasons.

“The new data leak should be a wake-up call,” said Sven Giegold, Green Party MP in the European Parliament.

Oxfam International, a British consortium of charities, commended the Pandora Papers for highlighting brazen examples of greed that deprive countries of tax revenues that can be used to fund programs and projects for the greater good. could.

“This is where our missing hospital is located,” Oxfam said in a statement.

“This is where the pay-packets of all the extra teachers and firefighters and public servants sit. Whenever a politician or business leader claims there is no money to pay for climate damage and innovation, more and better.” For jobs, for a fair post-COVID recovery, for more foreign aid, they know where to look.”

Pandora Papers vs Panama Papers

The Pandora Papers are a follow-up to a similar project released in 2016, called the “Panama Papers” compiled by the same journalist group. The latest blast is even more elaborate, porting through nearly 3 terabytes of data (the equivalent of about 750,000 photos on a smartphone) leaked from 14 different service providers doing business in 38 different jurisdictions around the world. The records date back to the 1970s, but most of the files date from 1996 to 2020.

In contrast, the Panama Papers sifted through 2.6 terabytes of data leaked by a now-defunct law firm based in the country called Mossack Fonseca that inspired that project’s nickname.

The latest investigation discovered accounts registered in familiar offshore shelters, including the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles, Hong Kong and Belize. But some secret accounts were also scattered among trusts established in the US, including 81 in South Dakota and 37 in Florida.

Some of the initial findings released on Sunday painted a sobering picture of the key people involved. For example, the investigation found that advisers helped Jordan’s King Abdullah II establish at least three dozen shell companies from 1995 to 2017, giving the monarch 14 homes in the US and UK worth more than $106 million. Helped to buy.

Blair, Prime Minister of the UK from 1997 to 2007, became the owner of the $8.8 million Victorian building in 2017 by purchasing a British Virgin Islands company that owned the property, and the building now hosts the law firm of his wife Cheri Blair . Investigation.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan is not accused of any wrongdoing. But according to the findings of journalists, members of his inner circle, including Finance Minister Shaukat Fayaz Ahmed Tarin, are accused of hiding assets worth millions of dollars in secret companies or trusts. In a tweet, Khan vowed to recover “wrongful gains” and said his government would look into all citizens mentioned in the documents and take action if necessary.

The Union of Journalists revealed that Konstantin Ernst, the image producer of Vladimir Putin and the chief executive officer of Russia’s leading TV station, was forced to buy and sell Soviet-era cinemas and surrounding property in Moscow after directing the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. allowed to develop. Ernst told the organization that the deal was not secret and denied the suggestion that he had been given special treatment.

The investigation found that in 2009, Czech Prime Minister Lady Babis pumped $22 million into shell companies to buy a chateau property in a mountainous village in Mougins, France, near Cannes. Shell companies and chateaus were not disclosed in Babis’ required asset declarations, according to documents obtained by Investigace.Cz, the Czech partner of the journalism group.

By Naveen Bharat Staff

 

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