Washington: Millions of leaked documents have uncovered financial secrets of 35 current and former world leaders, more than 330 politicians and public officials in 91 countries and territories, and a global lineup of fugitives, con artists, and murderers, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) said.
The secret documents expose offshore dealings 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 financial activities of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “unofficial minister of propaganda” and more than 130 billionaires from Russia, the United States, Turkey, and other nations.
The leaked records reveal that many of the power players who could help bring an end to the offshore system instead benefit from it — stashing assets in covert companies and trusts while their governments do little to slow a global stream of illicit money that enriches criminals and impoverishes nations.
Among the hidden treasures revealed in the documents:
A $22 million chateau in the French Riviera — replete with a cinema and two swimming pools — purchased through offshore companies by the Czech Republic’s populist prime minister Andrej Babis.
More than $13 million tucked in a secrecy-shaded trust in the Great Plains of the US by a scion of one of Guatemala’s most powerful families, a dynasty that has been accused of harming workers and the earth.
Three beachfront mansions in Malibu purchased through three offshore companies for $68 million by the King of Jordan in the years after Jordanians filled the streets during Arab Spring to protest joblessness and corruption.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists obtained the trove of more than 11.9 million confidential files and led a team of more than 600 journalists from 150 news outlets that spent two years sifting through them, tracking down hard-to-find sources, and digging into court records and other public documents from dozens of countries.
The leaked records come from 14 offshore services firms from around the world that set up shell companies and other offshore nooks for clients often seeking to keep their financial activities in the shadows.
The findings by ICIJ and its media partners spotlight how deeply secretive finance has infiltrated global politics — and offer insights into why governments and global organizations have made little headway in ending offshore financial abuses.
The Pandora Papers investigation also highlights how Baker McKenzie, the largest law firm in the US, helped create the modern offshore system and continues to be a mainstay of this shadow economy.