The leak, dubbed the Pandora Papers, contains 11.9 million documents from 14 global corporate services firms. These companies set up as many as 29,000 off-the-shelf companies and private trusts in “tax havens,” such as Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland, and the Cayman Islands, as well as Singapore, New Zealand, and the United States. Several global elites’ secret offshore affairs are revealed in the files.
A massive investigation has discovered that dozens of world leaders and hundreds of public officials used offshore tax havens to hide assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The Pandora Papers, which were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ), exposed the offshore dealings of kings, presidents, and prime ministers, including Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Is it against the law?
Although forming offshore entities is not illegal in and of itself, it is a loophole that tax evaders, fraudsters, and money launderers frequently exploit (many have been named in the leak).
Governments lose billions of dollars due to the use of such entities for tax evasion. The leak also reveals the role of London, which is home to ultra-rich clients’ wealth managers, law firms, company formation agents, and accountants.
Who Was Behind The Leak?
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), a network of reporters and media organizations, began a two-year effort to sift through 11.9 million confidential files leaked to it, with the help of more than 600 journalists from 150 news organizations. The data from the 2.94-terabyte haul was also verified by comparing it to public records from dozens of countries.
The ICIJ discovered that the documents were linked to over 330 politicians and public officials in over 91 countries and territories, including 35 current and former national leaders. It was found in the form of Emails, memos, incorporation records, share certificates, compliance reports, and complex diagrams depicting labyrinthine corporate structures among the documents available. They frequently allow for the first time the true owners of opaque shell companies to be identified.
Who Has Been Uncovered?
The owners of over 1,500 UK properties purchased through offshore companies, including people accused of corruption. Qatar’s ruling family escaped £18.5 million in tax. It was spent in a London super mansion. A well-known Tory donor who was embroiled in one of Europe’s biggest corruption scandals.
Jordan‘s King Hussein spent £70 million on properties in the UK and the US through secretly-owned companies. The hidden involvement of Azerbaijan’s ruling family in property deals is worth more than £400 million in the United Kingdom. The failure of the Czech prime minister to declare an offshore investment company used to purchase two £12 million French villas.
The list does not include Russian President Vladimir Putin, but several of his close associates do. The US has suspected Putin of having a hidden fortune.
Indians whose names are exposed.
According to the Pandora Papers leak, over 300 Indians have hidden their wealth in offshore accounts, including Reliance ADAG chief Anil Ambani, and Biocon’s Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Sachin Tendulkar, the Indian cricket legend, and other celebrities have been accused of hiding assets worth hundreds of millions of dollars in offshore tax-havens. Though representative of Sachin Tendulkar denied the allegation and declared its income which is disclosed as a legitimate income and he also claimed that he didn’t avoid any tax payment on the same. Ambani, the chairman of Reliance Group, told a London court in 2020 that his net worth was zero as a result of a dispute with three Chinese state-controlled banks.
“Our client is a tax resident of India and has made disclosures to Indian authorities as required by law,” an unnamed lawyer representing Anil Ambani told the Express. When making disclosures before the London court, all necessary considerations were taken into account.
The “Pandora Papers” is the latest in a series of massive ICIJ financial document leaks, dating back to LuxLeaks in 2014 and the 2016 Panama Papers, which prompted Iceland’s prime minister to resign and paved the way for Pakistan’s leader to be deposed.
What are the similarities and differences between the Panama and Paradise leaks?
The Pandora Papers are the largest offshore data leak in terms of volume, containing 2.94 terabytes of data. In comparison, the Panama Papers, which were leaked from the law firm Mossack Fonseca in 2016, contained 2.6 terabytes of data. The Paradise Papers the following year contained 1.4 terabytes of data. The majority of the data in this leak came from Appleby, an offshore provider.