International

Pandora Papers: From Tony Blair, Putin to King Abdullah II of Jordan, world leaders’ hidden wealth ‘exposed’

By IANS

New Delhi: Millions of leaked documents have exposed the financial secrets of 35 current and former leaders of the world, more than 330 politicians and public officials in 91 countries and territories, and a global lineup of fugitives, con artists and murderers, investigative journalists International Union of India (ICIJ) said.

Secret documents uncover offshore transactions of the King of Jordan, the Presidents of Ukraine, Kenya and Ecuador, the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

The files also detail the financial activities of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “informal propaganda minister” and more than 130 billionaires from Russia, the United States, Turkey and other countries.

Read also | Pandora Papers leak exposes offshore transactions of super rich including Indians

Leaked records show that many of the power players who could help end the offshore system take advantage of it instead – accumulating assets in secret companies and trusts, while their governments keep illicit money enriching criminals. does little to slow the global stream. impoverishes nations.

Among the hidden treasures revealed in the documents:

A $22 million chateau on the French Riviera – complete with a cinema and two swimming pools – was bought through offshore companies by the populist prime minister of the Czech Republic, a billionaire who has raided the corruption of the economic and political elite.

A secrecy-shaded trust in the Great Plains of the United States by descendants of one of Guatemala’s most powerful families, a dynasty that controls a soap and lipstick conglomerate that has been accused of harming workers and the earth. Over $13 million remains in the U.S.

It was bought for $68 million by the Jordanian king through three offshore companies on three beaches in Malibu in the years after the streets were filled by Jordanians to protest unemployment and corruption during the Arab Spring.

The secret records are known as the Pandora Papers.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists retrieved more than 11.9 million confidential files and led a team of more than 600 journalists from 150 news outlets who sifted through them for two years, tracking down hard-to-find sources. did, and dug in the court. Records and other public documents from dozens of countries.

The leaked records come from 14 offshore service firms around the world that often set up shell companies and other offshore nooks for clients seeking to keep their financial activities in the shadows. The record contains information about nearly three times more transactions than the country’s current and former leaders, as do any previous leaks of documents from the offshore haven.

In an age of widespread authoritarianism and inequality, the Pandora Papers investigation provides a disparate perspective on how money and power operate in the 21st century – and how the rule of law around the world is subverted by a system of financial secrecy. And it’s broken. America and other wealthy countries.

The findings from ICIJ and its media partners highlight how deeply covert finance has infiltrated global politics – and provide insight into how governments and global organizations have done little to end offshore financial abuses. made progress.

An ICIJ analysis of secret documents identified 956 companies in offshore shelters linked to 336 high-level politicians and public officials, including country leaders, cabinet ministers, ambassadors and others. More than two-thirds of those companies were established in the British Virgin Islands, a jurisdiction long known to be a major force in the offshore system.

At least $11.3 trillion has been kept “offshore”, according to a 2020 study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Due to the complexity and secrecy of the offshore system, it is not possible to know exactly how much of that money is linked to tax evasion and other crimes and how much is involved in money that comes from legitimate sources and has been reported to the appropriate authorities.

A document from the Pandora Papers shows that banks around the world helped their clients establish at least 3,926 offshore companies with the help of Aleman, Cordero, Galindo & Lee, a Panamanian law firm led by a former ambassador to the US. helped in The document shows that the firm – also known as Alcogal – founded at least 312 companies in the British Virgin Islands for clients of American financial services giant Morgan Stanley.

A Morgan Stanley spokesperson said: “We do not form offshore companies … this process is independent of the firm and is at the discretion and instruction of the client.”

The Pandora Papers investigation also sheds light on how Baker McKenzie, America’s largest law firm, helped build the modern offshore system and remains a mainstay of this shadow economy.

Baker Mackenzie and its global partners use their lobbying and law-drafting information to shape financial laws around the world. The ICIJ report found that they also benefited from the work they did for people linked to fraud and corruption.

Those for whom the firm has worked include Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, who US officials allege laundered $5.5 billion through a tangle of shell companies, factories and commercial properties in the US heartland. purchased.

Baker Mackenzie also worked for Zoe Lo, now a fugitive financier who has been accused by authorities in several countries of embezzling more than $4.5 billion from the Malaysian Economic Development Fund, known as 1MDB . The ICIJ report found that Low relied on Baker McKenzie and his associates to help him and his associates build a web of companies in Malaysia and Hong Kong. US officials allege they used some of those companies to transfer money laundered from 1MDB.

The Pandora Papers investigation is bigger and more global than the ICIJ’s landmark Panama Papers, which rocked the world in 2016, sparking police raids and new legislation in dozens of countries and the collapse of prime ministers in Iceland and Pakistan.

The Panama Papers came from the files of a single offshore service provider – the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The Pandora Papers highlights a broad cross-section of lawyers and middlemen who are at the heart of the offshore industry.

The Pandora Papers provide more than double the information about the ownership of offshore companies. In all, the new leak of documents reveals the actual owners of more than 29,000 offshore companies. The owners come from over 200 countries and regions, with the largest contingents from Russia, the UK, Argentina and China.

Back to top button