‘Pandora Papers’: Massive leak exposes offshore dealings of 35 world leaders

Leaked offshore financial records dubbed the “Pandora Papers” were published by major news outlets this weekend, exposing the secret assets and agreements from some of the world’s most wealthy and powerful leaders. 

The leak contained nearly 12 million files from companies hired to set up offshore accounts in Panama, Dubai, Monaco, Switzerland and the Cayman Islands, the Guardian said.

The Guardian reported that people named in the papers include 35 world leaders, 300 other public officials and more than 100 billionaires. Current and former presidents, prime ministers, judges, mayors, military generals and more are among those named. 

The data was originally given to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in Washington, D.C.

ICIJ then distributed the information to organizations like the Guardian, BBC Panorama, Le Monde and The Washington Post. Since then, more than 600 journalists have investigated the contents of the papers in the largest data leak on record in terms of financial data volume, the Guardian said. 

The papers offer what the Guardian called a “rare window into the hidden operations” of offshore financial operations that enable some of the world’s wealthiest people to evade taxes. 

Though not everyone named in the papers was accused of any wrongdoing, some of the paper’s revelations could have serious implications on upcoming elections. 

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, who will seek reelection next week, declined to comment on why he used an offshore investment firm to purchase a $22 million chateau in the south of France, per the Guardian’s reporting on the papers. 

Others named in the papers included King Abdullah II of Jordan, who reportedly had $100 million in properties all over the world and maintained he had committed no wrongdoing by holding those properties through offshore companies, the Guardian said.

The papers also show how a Russian woman purchased a multimillion-dollar apartment in Monaco and accumulated enormous wealth after having a baby, at a time when she was reportedly in a secret relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is said to have transferred a 25 percent stake in an offshore company to his friend turned top adviser, the papers show. The transfer came during a campaign in which he promised to rectify the corrupt nature of his country’s economy, the Guardian noted. 

While offshore holdings are not illegal and can even have legitimate security-related purposes, their secretive nature has at times been used to enable criminal activity and money laundering.

The papers could be an embarrassment for President Biden, who vowed to bring transparency to international finances though papers portray the U.S. as a “leading tax haven,” the Guardian said. 

The Guardian and other media outlets intend to publish additional findings about the papers in the coming days. 

Tags Joe Biden Offshore finance Pandora Papers Vladimir Putin

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